>It was Friday morning at 7:04. I just dropped Rich off at the train station and was trying to calculate if I had enough time to run to CVS to get some Halloween candy to appease my students anger at having to write a book report on a Friday and make it to Rays (our favorite little cafe-hole-in-the-wall) for an egg sandwich to make up for my lack of breakfast. I, bravely deciding that since I now have pregnancy superpowers, should certainly able to do both and still get to work on time.
If I were any other person, this would certainly be the case. Alas, I am not any other person, thus, the following occurred.
I quickly ran inside, plunked my large bag down on the counter, ordered a small tea and an egg and cheese sandwich to go from my favorite waitress and proceeded to try and wrangle a bobby-pin into my bed-head when I heard a throat clearing right beside me. I hadn’t noticed that I had sat down right next to an older gentleman at the counter, staring at me over his plate of scrambled eggs. Oh, no. I thought. This always happens to me.
For some reason, I am a lonely stranger magnet. They seek me out wherever I am like infrared detectors. I hoped this morning would be different. I don’t have time this morning. Please God, I don’t have time this morning.
“I’m an alcoholic.”
Here we go.
He smoothed his graying hair and fidgeted with his paper napkin. Maybe he wasn’t talking to me?
“I don’t want to be one, you know.”
Nope. He’s looking right at me. Of course he’s looking right at me.
“I don’t think anyone really wants to be one.” I said gently and smiled. Green light means go, to lonely strangers. Hook. Line. Sinker. I put my bag on the floor and took off my sweater.
I made it to work on time, in case you were wondering, just barely. But not before I learned all about this man’s life, his career, his poor choices, his failed marriage, his new interest in a woman who works at the red cross that he deemed “too wonderful for him” to be with. Not before he told me all about how he went to church with her once and it made him feel so human he could hardly stand it and how she touched his shoulder with her hair accidently when they were holding the hymnal. I told him before I left that I hoped it all worked for him, and he called after me that it probably won’t. But, then he smiled a little for the first time in the half hour we sat chatting together and I couldn’t help but feel like this meeting was planned just so I could offer a bit of encouragement to a man in a dark place.
Who are you supposed to meet today?