I was running late for work. Normally, I don’t worry too much about this because: 1) I always seem to arrive before my bosses, and: 2) I’m not entirely sure my bosses actually know what my hours are.
But as I left my apartment that morning, I got a little worried.
Now, I don’t know if you’ve heard – but we’ve had a few storms out here this year. This morning was one of them. The sidewalk was covered in slick ice and huge chunks of slushy rain were pelting down heavily. I picked my way to the corner, where I stood and stared down at the street. It had turned into a dirty, sloshy river. Plastic take-out bags and water bottles floated by at a rapid pace. The puddle at the curb was deceptively deep. As I stepped off and my foot sunk further and further down before making contact with the concrete, I realized my boots were not tall enough to protect the water from washing over them. My toes wriggled in my now wet, freezing socks and I felt annoyed.
It took me twice as long as usual to get to the subway. The sidewalk was so slippery, I was terrified of falling so I was moving really slow. My umbrella was no match for the shrieking wind and so the 5th time it blew inside out, I just screamed, “Goddammit!” and hurled it into a trash can where it joined a dozen of it’s discarded friends.
I pulled my hood tighter around my face and made my way to 86th Street. By the time I arrived, it was the time I was actually supposed to be at work. I stepped down to the subway platform, one with the thick crowd. When I finally got there, it was a mass of angry, drenched and cold people. I looked up at the notification screen. Then next train was not for 18 minutes. Crap.
I muscled my way back up to the street to see if I could take a bus. That idea was quickly negated, as it was pretty clear a riot was about to break out at any second. People were lined down the street and when a bus finally arrived, they swarmed over it and shoved their way through the back doors, blatantly ignoring the fact that buses are not free. There was a lot of yelling and profanity and waving of briefcases.
I couldn’t really figure out what to do, so I decided to go into Duane Reade and buy a new umbrella. By the time I got out, and I’ve never seen this before in the nine years I’ve lived here, there was an actual line down the block to get into the subway station. “Fuck this,” I thought.
I decided to go home.
I popped back into Duane Reade and sent an email to my bosses explaining that my neighborhood was a total mess, the subways were running slow, the buses were out of control and I was going to work from home. I knew none of them would be able to get to the office either, so I figured this wouldn’t be a big deal. But I waited a bit to see if anyone responded, just in case.
No one did.
Except RJ with this:
“That sounds CATastrophic!”
I will never live that down.
I decided, since I was already out, to stop by the Starbucks near my apartment and pick up a Vanilla Latte. The wind pushed me through the door and I felt relieved to step into the warm confines of the coffee scented space, with the other happy people who were not going to work. I pulled my hood off and smiled to myself. I rubbed my mitten-clad hands together to warm them. Then I looked to my left.
And there he was.
I froze immediately. He was just standing there, by the door, looking out to the street.
“This can’t be,” I thought to myself. “You’re seeing things.”
It had been a long time since I’d seen him. And I’d wondered sometimes if my past sightings were just a figment of my imagination. I mean, come on, what are the odds? This is freakin’ New York City after all.
So I looked to his shoes.
Ah yes, Prada loafers. There was only one person I knew who would wear those kind of shoes in this weather. He lived for style over practicality – in all things. Boots were for common-folk. And worry about them getting ruined in the sludge? Let’s be real. He probably has three back-up pairs.
Built for snow.
My eyes moved back to his face. That face I’d still know anywhere.
Yep. It was him. It was The Wordsmith.