I was walking down a perfectly normal street on a perfectly normal Thursday on a perfectly normal lunch break. Manhattan, too, was perfectly normal. Well, it was as normal as Manhattan had ever been, what with all the people and taxis and skyscrapers and criminally overpriced hotdog stands. But this Thursday lunch break, Manhattan was as normal as it was ever going to get.

A stranger walked up to me. The stranger was wearing a blue baseball cap embroidered with the words, "Call me Pickle. Pickle is my name."

The stranger, presumably named Pickle, started off the conversation something like this, "IdontknowwhereIamcanyoupleasedirectmetotheGoldenGateBridge?"

"Calm down, Pickle," I answered. "I didn't quite catch that. Could you possibly say it again, maybe a little slower this time?"

Pickle looked at me like I was crazy. "What did you call me? Did you just call me Pickle?"

"Pickle is your name," I reminded her. "You're wearing it."

She reached up and whipped off her hat. "Oh, this," she laughed. "Yeah, I forgot I was wearing this. My cat gave it to me for my birthday."

"So what's your real name?" I asked.

"Pickle," answered Pickle.

I decided not to read into it any further, and began to escape.

"Wait!" Panting, Pickle caught up to me. She seemed completely out of breath, for one who had only walked five steps. "I need directions. Can you tell me how I can get to the Golden Gate Bridge from here?"

"That's kind of on the other side of the country. You might find a travel agency more informative," I told her.

"But I'm homeless. I don't have any money. I don't even have a name." she frowned. "I named myself Pickle after I ate a pickle last week. It was the first food I'd had in over a decade. So I named myself after it, in its honor. It was a green pickle," she reminisced. "A dark green pickle. Very happily green. It wasn't even all that mushy.." Pickle's musings were interrupted by a ring, which turned out to be Pickle's cell phone.

"Hello, Mom?" she said into the phone. "No, I'm not going to meet you at your beach house this Saturday. I'm looking for the Golden Gate Bridge. And no, I will not give my Hindu beliefs. Sure, I could do with some cat food.."

I rolled my eyes and started to walk away again, but Pickle seized me by my elbow and pulled me around the corner into an ally. She continued talking on the phone and wouldn't let me leave. I was bored, confused, and immensely annoyed, but I waited politely for her to finish her conversation. Curse the proper upbringing.

About three days, four hours, and fifty two minutes later, she finally ended her chat with her mother ("Fine, then, I'll see you on the twenty eighth. Don't forget to bring that new diamond footstool, so I can see it."), and turned back to me.

"What's up with the beach house and the cell phone and the diamond footstool? I thought you said you were homeless and broke."

"I am homeless and broke," said Pickle. "It's my mom who's filthy rich. Oh, and the cell phone I pickpocket-ed from some idiot tourist. Want to go for a burger?"

I raised an eyebrow skeptically. "I thought you were Hindu."

"Well, I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Unless, of course, you wanted to foot the bill. But I mustn't get my hopes up," she laughed, and then turned thoughtful. "Maybe if you somehow got really drunk, and woke up to find your wallet gone.. I'll have to think on that one. Anyway, could you direct me to the Golden Gate Bridge? I asked somebody a few hours ago, and they said it was in that building over there." She dragged me to the other end of the ally, and pointed to the white building across the street. It displayed the words "Eddie's Asylum," and then in smaller letters, "Hospital for the Mentally Ill."

I nodded and said, "Yup, that's it, Pickle. Just go walk inside, and tell the lady at the desk that you're looking for the Golden Gate Bridge. They'll put you in a comfy straight jacket, give you some yummy white pills, and take you to California."

"Okay, thanks!" And Pickle skipped off to where she belonged.

And so resumed my perfectly normal Manhattan lunch break.