Catching The Wave
Last week I was in my usual spot at St. Arbucks having my morning coffee and being sociable with The Usual Suspects, whatever their names are. I had just picked up my free refill and returned to my chair. It was then that everything began to come apart at the seams.
I had just unleashed a thunderbolt of wisdom about something when a woman came over to that counter where you can get napkins, sugar, and those little packets of fake sugar. She was stirring her coffee when she turned toward me and said, “Hi, John” while waving in my direction.
She looked familiar, vaguely to be honest, but familiar none the less. I waved back – ever the gentleman. I was certain that I had met her somewhere. She remembered my name, but when it came to her name I drew a blank, She wasn’t wearing a nametag.
She was smiling. I figured I shouldn’t just ignore her, so I got up and walked over to her. My brain was whirring, trying to put a name or at least a location to her face.
“So, how are you doing these days,” I asked her?
“Things are fine – and with you?”
“So far, so adequate.” (My standard reply.)
I was thinking – was she the mother of a former client? Did I do a show with her somewhere? Is she a neighbor? An old co-worker? I was coming up as empty as a Chicago grave on Election Day. It was then that this anonymous woman took the initiative.
“Who the hell are you?” She asked me.
A fair question under the circumstances. If she hadn’t asked me I was going to have to admit defeat and ask her.
I ‘fessed up.
“You looked very familiar. You waved at me and said, “Hi, John.” I figured we must know each other, but I’m at a loss.”
I looked over at her intended target and he was ignoring us. My bet is that he thought that she really was waving to me. Everyone had read this incorrectly.
Even though it was all a complete mix-up she was smiling.
I tried to get out of the situation by apologizing. She laughed and stuck out her hand. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, John. My name is Lucy,” she said as we shook hands. I laughed as if this kind of thing happened to me every day.
I shuffled back to my chair by the window. I gave The Suspects a short report on the whole thing. They snickered. I returned to my coffee and tried to look nonchalant, blasé even.
My new friend, Lucy, finished doctoring her coffee. As she turned to leave she looked in my general direction, waving again.
“Good-bye, John and Good-bye, John,” she said covering all bases. I waved back. That other John never looked up from his book. I’m assuming his lack of basic civility toward Lucy stems from his ability to focus on his reading and the fact that he must be deaf.
And I still contend that she looked familiar.