Tales from the run: The curmudgeonly old bird man

runlightApparently I am an ignorant runner.

I know this because the curmudgeonly old man in the trucker hat who often walks my seaside running route with a squawking parrot on his poop-covered shoulder told me so the other day as I ran by during a tempo run.

And on my way back, he heard me coming and fully turned around with his arms extended in an attempt to stop me, his parrot wildly flapping its wings. “STOP! I need to talk to you!” he shouted as I flew by.

“Sorry, I need to see where I’m going! Safety first!”

He may have shouted a few profanities at me but I couldn’t quite hear him.

Stop during a tempo run? Sorry mister. I’m marathon training.

So what is curmudgeonly bird man so curmudgeonly about?

My headlamp. He doesn’t like my 80 lumen headlamp that barely lights the road in front of me because for that whole five seconds when I pass him by once or twice a week, it is “too bright in his eyes”.

I know this because he told me last winter every time I passed by him on my run. Sometimes he’d point a finger, yell “You!” and try to stop me. Or sometimes if he saw me on the road and was on a side pathway, he’d yell at me from afar. I think I responded once and said, “I can’t see where I’m going without a light, sorry!” and ran on by. But lately he’s been getting a bit bolder; a bit more in-the-way. I’m afraid I might actually run him and his bird down one day if he decides to jump out in front of me to give me a good talkin’ to about my headlamp.

I can barely see two feet in front of me with this light.

I can barely see two feet in front of me with this light.

I’m not the only runner on this particular section of road who wears a headlamp, and I wonder if he yells at them, too. Once I saw him coming from a distance and turned off my headlamp when I passed by, only to almost collide with another runner who was coming around a corner. Nope, I thought. Safety first from now on. Curmudgeonly bird man is just going to have to deal with my headlamp light until early morning daylight returns.


Though it’s annoying to be yelled at by an old man on my peaceful morning runs, it’s also kind of funny, and probably a highlight (pun intended!) in his day. Though I truly don’t want to cause anyone eye discomfort (what a weird thing to even consider…), the light really isn’t that bright, so I feel like he’s complaining just to complain. I always imagine when he gets home from walking his bird, he says to his wife/partner, “Good thing I went out this morning, I scolded three ignorant runners about their dangerous headlamps! When will they learn some respect!”

Sorry mister, I'm not giving up my running route or compromising my safety because you don't like my headlamp.

Sorry mister, I’m not giving up my running route or compromising my safety because you don’t like my headlamp.

Other than ignoring him and running by, I’ve always been polite when responding and have even said good morning a few times before he has a chance to yell at me. Ah well. If anything, our morning interactions make for a good story 🙂

Have you ever encountered something similar on your runs? Or been heckled for not wearing a light/running on the wrong side of the road/in a bike lane, etc.? Should I stop one day and hear what the bird man has to say? What are some of your interesting tales from the run?