Thursday, January 30, 2014

But For A Yawn

It was an ordinary winter day in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, save for the bitter, bitter cold. I had no plans to wear anything fancy for my lengthy commute from Baltimore County to Washington D.C. where I do research on behalf of my longtime employer at the National Library of medicine on the campus of the National Institutes of Health.  I didn’t care about fashion or femininity, nor about making a good  impression.  I only wanted to stay warm and comfortable while standing on the outdoor platform of the D.C. Metro awaiting my train to and from the frozen capitol.

For these reasons, I didn’t think much about the outfit I was pulling together.  I threw on my thickest leggings, sage green knits by HUE which I bought at Macy’s in 2011.  Over the leggings I donned a long-sleeved, ribbed-knit top by Faded Glory and, on top of that, layered a heavy flannel shirt by Newport News in an olive and black buffalo plaid, to which I added a choker necklace and earrings of green and black crystal beads by Mixit from JCPenney. I pinned my hair up to keep the wind from blowing it all a skelter and pulled on my warmest footwear, fur-covered apr├Ęs-ski boots by veteran ski-apparel maker Tecnica.

My day was productive, if quiet.  I stifled a casual yawn while awaiting a late-afternoon subway train at Washington D.C.’s Gallery Place station. A friendly voice came from a few feet away.  “Tired?”  I nodded half-heartedly in the direction of a nice-looking fellow in a gray suit and tie. He immediately approached me to strike up a conversation. “I’m Mike”, said the tall, slender gentleman with distinguished gray curls at his slightly receding hairline. “I’m Lynell”, I said and shook his outstretched hand.

The gentleman told me he had inadvertently left a glove on a metro train and was on his way to the lost and found department to see if the wayward glove had been turned in.  The subway’s misplaced items room was apparently at a stop on the Green line, my regular route home from the District.

We made casual conversation until a train approached.  I bid him farewell, climbed aboard and found a seat.  The man followed and looked around for a place to land.  Eventually I moved my briefcase and invited him to share my bench.  The train was crowded with homeward-bound commuters and my new friend appeared to have a slight limp that might have made standing uncomfortable.  He asked what I did for a living and laughed when I told him I worked for a law firm, pulling out his business card and handing it to me. Turns out the good man is an assistant district attorney with the Washington office of the Attorney General, for the past several years a part of the Child Support Services division.  He prosecutes “deadbeat dads” who don’t pay child support, he said, and derives much satisfaction from helping underprivileged children get the funding they need to live healthy, productive lives.   My interest piqued, I put my magazine down and engaged the fellow in pleasant conversation. Turns out we both attended U.C. Berkeley in northern California, although his classes were a couple of years ahead of mine. Neither of us ever had children but derive much satisfaction from helping kids see good in the world. He told me I was beautiful.  He asked for my phone number.  I politely declined and explained when he protested that I was just a bit more shy than he was.  He invited me to a party Saturday night.  I thanked him and said no.  

Eventually our train arrived at his stop.  The prosecutor rose and turned to say goodbye.  I wished him luck finding his glove. And then he was gone. The chances I will ever see this man again are remote, yet it’s nice to know he’s out there, living his life, helping children from broken homes have enough money for food and shoes and books. I’ve considered our chance meeting in the past few days, wondering if I should not have been quite so bashful.  I won’t call him.  But I will think about him…
"Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them." ~ Francesco Guicciardini

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