Yeah, so I am basically Indiana Jones.
I went on what I thought was going to be a relatively short hike today in Portland’s Forest Park, which is basically a 5000-acre National Forest inexplicably and awesomely stuck smack dab in the middle of city limits.
I’d been hiking for about an hour and was on the way back to my car when a woman in full running regalia stopped me and asked if I had seen her two sons, whom she had lost track of earlier. She described them, and indeed I had seen them — about forty-five minutes prior walking in the opposite direction of where she had thought they had gone. This is not entirely surprising, as Forest Park has a plethora of interweaving trails, and it’s actually surprisingly easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention to the names of all the various routes. Adults get turned around all the time. I took her in the general direction of where I had last seen them and then we split up, each going a different route on different trails to better the odds of running into them, as she texted her husband who was busy looking in a completely different part of the park.
But even that wasn’t so easy, because in order to cover ground quickly I had to run the trail, which turned out to be oddly problematic. You see, since the first week of June I’ve lost about 25 pounds, which on the one hand is kind of awesome, but on the other hand means that my shorts no longer fit — and because there’s only so much like my father I am willing to look, I refuse to wear a belt with short pants. And so twice while running my khaki shorts actually fell down over my ankles, which made me trip over them and then have to look around violently to make sure that no one was around to see. After that, I kept running — all the while using one hand to hold my pants up. And as I’m running, it’s hitting me for the first time in my life how good a thing it is that squirrels cannot operate cameras.
Long story short: I found the lost boys, called their mom, and took them to meet her at a specified trailhead. Afterwards I was thinking about this, and it hit me how fine the line is between hero/good Samaritan and busybody/stalker.
Today I found the kids, so I get to be the former. But in some alternate timeline where the kids had taken a different turn here or doubled back there and their mom found them, then I probably go into the latter category. It’s pretty easy to imagine how the conversation between the mom and the dad goes an hour after the kids have been found when I’m text messaging to follow up:
Me [text-message]: HI. THIS IS TOD FROM FOREST PARK, FOLLOWING UP. DID YOU FIND YOUR BOYS?
Dad: Who’s that?
Mom: Oh, it’s this guy I talked to for like two minutes on the trail. He’s texting me.
Dad: He’s texting you? Why is he texting you? Was he hitting on you?
Mom: No, he was just this guy I passed and I asked if he’d seen the kids, and then he started following me around saying he wanted to “help” me. I think he’s lonely.
Dad: I’m a little worried that he has your phone number. You didn’t tell him where we lived, did you?
Mom: Of course not, I’m not stupid. I’ll have my cell number changed first thing in the morning.
Dad: Good, I think I’ll sleep better if you do. Also, maybe we should get you a handgun?
But since I was lucky enough to find the kids, I’m a real, bonafide hero. In fact, I think I’m not going too far out on a limb to say that if it weren’t for me, the parents never would have found the boys and the whole family would have eventually died of starvation in the park.
Also, I got the vibe from these boys that they are going to grow up to kill the next Hitler, or find the last-minute cure for the coming Super-Plaugue, or lead the human resistance against the Robot Uprising, or something like that. The details are a little vague, but the important point is that I’m pretty sure I just saved all of mankind.