Feb 26, 2012
The easy part
Friday evening and late leaving is not the best way to finish the work week.
Certainly it had not been my intention to be late because, waiting at my apartment, my newest girlfriend, Sheilagh, was waiting and we were eager to fulfill the promised requirements of a 'date night'. On the phone, she had sounded a little disappointed.
“Yeah,” I said, “I'm going to be a little late.”
“Oh no...” She trailed off. “I was already preparing the appetisers.”
“I'm so sorry,” I reiterated, “but they need me to get out one more proof so the client can review over the weekend. Will you still be there when I arrive?”
“If I get bored, I might just leave,” she jested, her voice pouting. I laughed.
“I guess I had better get moving then - I'll call you as soon as I'm on my way, k?”
“OK,” she responded, sounding more enthusiastic, and I turned back to my computer, hanging up the phone. I glanced at the time and began to pound at the keyboard, laying out text.
At 5:41pm – having become increasing flustered for the slow progress of the layout – I finally pushed 'send' and the emailed proof fluttered off to wherever it goes. Then, in a surprising flurry of activity, I grabbed my coat and backpack, simultaneously switching off my computers and, zipping up my coat while walking, I scurried through the silent back office looking for things left awry and, finally, turned out the lights. I scuttled through the main office, still adjusting my coat and retrieving gloves. I saluted the customer service staff on the fly, wishing them a 'great weekend' and was out the front door, sprinting across the parking lot toward the bus stop on the opposite corner.
The day had been, let's say, normal; a continually repeated series of artwork, proof, artwork, proof. It is not that I mind because I enjoy being a graphic artist but sometimes the interruptions of sales staff looking for graphics support or, worse, demanding clients, can set off the overall rhythm and lead to, at least, the internal impression of less than spectacular productivity. Yes, it had been one of those and the icing on the cake had been when I informed a CSR that I would have the graphics done first on Monday, she answered;
“Oh,” with an awkward expression. “I told the client he would have them for the weekend.”
“Sorry,” she answered, looking embarrassed. “Didn't I tell you that?”
“It must have slipped your mind,” I suggested, resigned to the fact, and scooted back to my station.
Arriving at the bus stop, a cigarette hanging from my lip and Nine Inch Nails in my ears, I noticed a young lady already there and summarily ignored her.
There had been a snow-storm that day which was perfectly orchestrated to mess up the morning rush. I had counted my lucky stars and, despite an expectation of a 30 minute wait for a late bus, it had instead arrived on time and I got to warm up with a coffee at Jessie's Diner before going in to work. It had not really been much of a storm and, by evening, the streets were clear and the traffic much reduced due to it being Friday evening. It was, however, cold, damp and windy. I did my usual thing which was to ignore the cold which gradually crept through the folds of khaki-coloured coat.
“Excuse me?” A voice intruded on my distant plans for the evening.
“Hey,” I answered, neither encouraging nor dismissing.
“Do you know what time the next bus comes?” I don't know how long she had been waiting but, clearly, being of a small build, she was very cold.
“I don't,” I answered frankly and flicked the remains of the cigarette into the street. “I'm usually out of here earlier.”
“Me, too,” she concurred.
“I'm expecting that there should be one at about 10 of,” I suggested.
“That's what I thought,” she agreed and distanced – the point of further interaction obviated.
For no foreseeable reason, it did not happen. By 6:15, the entire charade had become moot.
“Hey,” I called to her, again. “I don't think that this is working out. Where do you need to go?”
“I don't think it is either,” she stated and then added, “- the subway.” She stared at me from large eyes, her face nearly hidden by the fur trim of her parka hood.
“Listen,” I forged ahead, “I'm about to catch a cab – I can drop you where it will be easier to get the bus to the subway. What do you say?”
There was a pause. I'm certain that there must have been any number of 'safety considerations' going through her mind as she stood facing a large man of eclectic appearance and not terribly friendly disposition. Finally, she answered.
“Good answer,” I responded. “Let's get the Hell out of here. We need to cross back to the building because the cab won't stop at the corner. She nodded, understanding. As we stood waiting for the favour of the light, she turned.
“How much is this going to cost?” Her inquiry was timid and unsure.
I fixed her before answering and wondering vaguely how someone else might have responded.
“Nothing,” I said. “I have to go home anyway.”