Human Drama on a Sunday Stroll

conflicto_2[1]Last week I was out for a walk with my mom in her neighborhood. On her street, there are a number of assisted living facilities for seniors. Plenty of seniors using walkers are out and about on sunny days.

On our way home from the store, a man and a woman, in their 20’s or early 30’s, were having an intense discussion about thirty feet in front of us. She was carrying a bouquet of log-stemmed red flowers wrapped in cellophane. He had his hands in his jeans pocket and kept his head down while she did all the talking.

Suddenly, the woman’s voice rose in anger. She looked at her companion, then turned away again. At one point she stopped to face him and her voice rose a second time. With the traffic passing by on this fairly busy street, I couldn’t hear what she was saying and didn’t really want to, except to gauge if we were heading into a dangerous situation. Still,  I slowed my pace.

My 84-year-old Mom doesn’t walk fast anyway, so as we lagged further behind the couple, I kept watching, wondering if things could spiral out of control. I also worried that they might be heading to my mom’s building and could bring their conflict inside.

Suddenly, the young man marched ahead a few steps, then abruptly spun around, and said, “Don’t tell me how I f—g feel. You don’t know how I feel!” He turned back and kept walking.

She said nothing, but continued walking and was soon beside him again. After a minute or two, more words were exchanged but in a calmer tone. They reached the three-way intersection, and crossed the side street. At that point, she abruptly turned right and crossed the street we’d been walking down. He raised his arms slightly above his head, then brought them down hard in obvious frustration. He watched her a moment, then turned left, heading in the opposite direction. By the time we reached the intersection, both had vanished, as if nothing had happened.

Writing about conflict is one thing, witnessing it in real life is something else. Human drama is everywhere. As writers, observing and capturing emotions of the moment is part of our job, but at that moment all I thought about was protecting my mom. What if one of them had been carrying a weapon? What if they’d spotted us and decided we’d been intentionally eavesdropping?

So I write about it now, wondering if those two people resolved their differences or if further drama will enfold in their lives.

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

10 thoughts on “Human Drama on a Sunday Stroll”

  1. Debra, a most disturbing end to your day out with your mother. It is hugely upsetting to witness such arguments, worrying about ones own safety and those of loved ones but also I always wonder what is their home life like if this is what they are like outdoors. Recently I was in a town with my son whilst out touring universities. A couple ahead had the most vicious argument I’ve seen, shouting vile threats, pushing each other, one ended up in the road. We backed away simultaneously, deeply shaken. Also, feeling so vulnerable is frightening … I hope you and your mother had a good day previously and could recover from this incident. Hugs x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, your experience sounds very frightening, Annika! We did have a good day at the end. My mother’s dementia made her barely aware of what was going on, and of course, she quickly forgot about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when I was growing up that only people interested in drawing attention did such things…that most people considered confrontation private business. Now it’s like being stuck in a Jerry Springer show all of the time. It’s contributing to all of our stress, even if we aren’t the ones being yelled at…. Too bad there’s no way to diffuse such situations with a smile…too high a risk everything could go Wild West. Missing Miss Manners right about now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting point, KC. I have seen more conflict than I used to, but people seem less likely to hide their anger or frustration, which is kind of a horror story in itself! What if we lived in a world where no one could hide negative emotion?

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    1. Yes, I assumed that she’d bought them herself with the intention of giving them to someone, but perhaps she’d bought them for herself. That she’d held, bright beautiful flowers made the whole scene somewhat surreal.


  3. Incredible what you hear on the street sometimes. I understand trying to keep your mom safe and away from any confrontation. It does give a writer ideas though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, after it was over I was curious about their relationship, and if this was an ongoing issue, or something that was resolved. I’m going back out to Mom’s tomorrow. I’ll probably find myself looking for them on the street.

      Liked by 1 person

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