Monday, January 24, 2011

#fiction - A Good Friday

well i was feeling pretty good. i had just had dinner with my brother, his treat. he also got me coffee and some cigarettes. the day had been very productive otherwise as well.

the start of it had its fair share of road blocks. i woke at 5 am. i took my coffee, after my shower. i suited up. had a small breakfast. read a few pages from ian mcellan's ENDURING LOVE. pulled my ipod from the charger and was out the door by 6. there was already 3 inches of snow and the start of a blizzard. so i had to walk through that to get to the bus terminal.

i'm staying these days in fall river, about sixty miles south east of boston, where i work. its an hour commute by bus each way. not a big deal normally. but today, the 6:40 bus was thirty minutes late. in that time, the counter salesperson traded stories with the regulars about the inefficiencies of the 6:40 driver. the first stop on the route to boston is in newport. its about 25 minutes normally between newport and fall river. this driver is known for taking fall river tickets, loading the bus, then disappearing into the fall river bathroom for 15 minutes everyday before launching on toward boston. so that's what we were talking about while he was running 30 minutes behind through the snow.

then the bus came. we loaded up. i took my shoes off to dry out my socks from the walk. thankfully the heat was on full blast and this would work out fine. the driver, 30 minute delay notwithstanding, maintained his fall river ritual and disappeared for 15 minutes in the fall river bus terminal bathroom. there were many groans about this. i didn't hear all of them because i put paul simon into my ears, reclined and fell asleep.

i woke just as the bus was going up the ramp to the south station terminal, it was 8:55. i was supposed to start work at an office on beacon hill at 9 am. oh that driver! on top of the snow delay! so i started work 20 minutes late that day.

and my duties include cold calling, but today i could not count on there being enough decision makers who were crazy enough to come into work on a friday blizzard day, to make a meal of commissions. but that was okay. because in the morning, i was handed a blank set of papers with only phone numbers on them. i made about 60 phones calls between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. and by the end of my calling, i had mapped out every name and number for every decision maker within every department of 7 local hospitals. for monday knives will be sharp and it is going to be a catch and clean 'em day. friday was a good fact finding mission day.

yeah and then i walked from the low-numbers beacon street building to south station. soaked my shoes and socks through again with ice water. still paul simon in the ears made it easy not to care. met up with my brother. had our dinner and was doted upon by him. wrote a poem before he got there. wrote a poem after he left. found a quarter on the sidewalk, which i was particularly excited about, because if you've been to south station, boston, even if for only 10 minutes, you know the place is crawling with a very hungry lot who are combing up and down the strip for money. so an unattended quarter is a big deal there.

so despite the fact that my feet were freezing cold, my humor was positive. my accounts were balanced. i got into the bus terminal. i took the elevator to the second floor where the buses are. when i was in the elevator, i leaned against a window. i was smiling absent-minded. i hadn't thought about it, but i was smiling. in a nice little ice cold world.

then my eyes eventually leveled out and settled upon a woman. this woman was PLUMP. she too leaned against the window, the opposite window on the opposite side of the elevator. she saw me smiling. her eyes suggested playfulness. she said "i'm not going to smile."

i genuinely thought in that moment she might be high on life like me and wanting to spark one of those fun light and airy anything goes because we're royalty in this world sort of playful banter discussions with me. this based only on the way her eyes peered back. i thought, from her tone, and my lifted perspective, that she was just "wearing a negative mask" for fun.

so to her 'not going to smile' i replied with a "not yet."

and she did manage a smile then. but it was a cruel smile and i felt its hostility. and then what came out of her mouth was, well, it was the most prolific amount of elephant dumping negativity i could imagine possible in a 10 second interval using just words.

"i will smile when someone like obama shows me love. instead i have to be here in this constant cold. no medicine for my bones. they hurt! i can't breathe. and my house. they took my house. and my kids. and i want to be back in florida where i belong. and no one cares. and this town is awful!"

i tried---for the span of 2-3 seconds, i tried really hard---and that's enough time to scroll through a lifetime of positive experiences, mine or learned from the marketplace, for something, anything, to offer up to this woman, in specific response to her foul attitude. a quip or maxim or a phrase---something to disarm this negative bomb in her mind. but i had nothing i thought would fit her bill. i realized my smile should have been her antidote, but it only inflamed her. so i didn't say anything. and i'm glad i didn't because the doors to the elevator opened. and as i started to walk out, i looked back and realized the man standing behind us all was pushing a cart upon which this woman's luggage was stowed.

"fucking nerve" i thought. it wasn't so much the specific thoughts she was trying to convey. it was the overall tenor that carried in her voice, that no one, ever, at all was in her corner, that she was truly down and out and overlooked in all of it---and that i felt for her because of this---but then to realize she had a bagman. jeez. jeez! and the look in the bagman's eyes saying, 'man you ain't caught a brow beating yet from this woman!' oh the gall of some folks to just hijack the airwaves with bile! whatever, dudette. put my earbuds in. paul simon, and this post i'm writing, will help me forget you.

i took that found quarter out of my pocket. i smiled at the bagman and tucked it into his front jacket pocket. said "this quarter is special. i found it for you." and walked on through the terminal. got on the bus. took my shoes off. the heat dried my feet. reclined. refined my poem. and finished the coffee my baby brother was nice enough to get me. an hour later, i was home.

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