Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Thanks

I street-park my car at work. There’s no lot, and the office is sufficiently on the edge of the downtown area that abundant street parking is available. I generally park about a block and a half away from the office. This morning I parked in my usual spot and started walking down the sidewalk with my computer in a bag hung over my shoulder and my bag lunch in my left hand. I noticed two people crossing the street in front of me, a man and a woman, both white. They stopped in the middle of the street in order to get her cigarette lit. At that particular moment there was no traffic, so it wasn’t especially dangerous, but it was a little strange. Stopping to do anything in the middle of a main artery is. The man, who appeared to be in his early 30s, had a shaved head and a long beige coat. The woman, who appeared to be in her 50s or possibly older, had straight, flaming red hair down to her waist. She wore buckets of makeup and very tight clothes. She was completely covered, perhaps even conservatively, but everything was extremely tight. They seemed oblivious to me for about 30 or 40 feet of sidewalk. He seemed to be gently coaching her along. They turned left, exactly where I turn left to get to the office. We both walked ten more feet of sidewalk in tandem. Then they realized that I was behind them, and politely stepped aside and smiled. I walked past briskly, smiled and said, “Good morning!” in as chipper a voice as I’m capable of doing. Chipper really isn’t my thing. I passed, and ten more feet of sidewalk passed. Then I heard a meek voice say, “Hey there!” and trail off. I tried to ignore it and keep moving. Almost immediately afterwards, a stronger voice reinforced the first, and repeated, “Hey there!” I stopped and turned around to find that the woman was right up behind me, the man standing about 15 feet back on the sidewalk. She was difficult to understand, but said, “Hi! You’re down here a lot, aren’t you?” I replied, “Yes, I work right over there.” Then she asked me a question that was feebly quiet and indecipherable. I said, “I’m sorry…?” She said what sounded to me like, “Did you take the train?” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it, but it was definitely a question. So I said, “No. I’m sorry.” I’m pretty sure that, whatever she was asking, “no” was the appropriate answer. Then she smiled and said, “All right. Have a good day.” I said, “You do the same,” smiled back and went to work.

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