Mr. Fredrickson (A Character Sketch)

Every Friday on the drive in to school, I see the same man standing alone at a bus stop. I can’t remember the first time I saw him, but I do remember my first thought: “Mr. Fredrickson!”

From the white hair atop the squarish face to the squarish dark glasses to the slightly too high belt over brown pants, he looks like a real life version of the Mr. Fredrickson from the Pixar movie Up. Unlike the Mr. Fredrickson in the movie, this one always has a full-sized, black umbrella and black brief case tucked under his arm. He always seems to wear the same neutral colors: a white button up shirt and dark pants. I tried to draw him, but I can’t do him justice.

I first saw him three years ago. It used to be every Tuesday and Friday, but when my teaching schedule changed this school year, so did the times I drove in, so I only get to see him Fridays now. But he is there every Friday around the same time. I’d be willing to bet he’s there every day.

I always wonder where he’s going. I used to wonder if he’s a professor since he stands right by a private college, but there’s no way he’s finished teaching by the time I see him each morning. Perhaps he goes to the big library downtown. He strikes me as the type who could sit and read for hours.

Usually when I pass by, he’s peering past the winding line of cars to spot the bus. But sometimes, I feel like he actually looks back at me. I wonder if he sees how excited I get every time I pass by or notices that I always wish him a good morning as I pass by with my windows up. I wonder if he makes up stories about me the same way that I make up stories about him and if he wonders where I’m headed at the same time every Friday morning. Maybe he’s made up a name for me too and secretly wishes me a good morning as well.

An update: I drove in at a different time today, on a Thursday. Guess who was waiting patiently at the bus stop.


2 responses to “Mr. Fredrickson (A Character Sketch)

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    There’s a great scene in the movie Wonder Boys where a writer and his agent are sitting in a bar, and they make up a whole story about a guy they see on the other side of the room.

    When they start to interact with him personally later in the movie (they have apparently stolen his car without meaning to), they lose track of the story they made up, and continue to call him Vernon, the name they invented for him.

    At the end of the movie, everything resolved, his parting words are, “And stop calling me Vernon!”

    • S.B. Roberts

      Ha, ha! This is literally my life. I’m always making up stories about the people around me, and I really do dread what would happen if I ever did find one of them (like Mr. Fredrickson) in a place where I could actually talk to them. I’d probably do the same thing. :)

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