Who remembers Lois Lane, reporter and girlfriend of Clark Kent (alias Superman)? I seriously don’t consider myself in her league, but people talk to me and feel confident in my presence. I wish I could say the same, but you can’t have it all. Nevertheless, my antennas are flitting around and here and there I have a good catch.
Bloomingdale’s has a neat little eatery on the sixth floor among the pots and pans. No atmosphere, but low prices and easy for a quick bite, with a few tables and high stools.
I found a spot where a lady was seated and grabbed my safety valve (Good Housekeeping magazine) to avoid unnecessary chit-chat. I noticed my companion had a lot of employee acquaintances and they kept coming over to speak with her. Probably she was an ex-worker. I detected an accent in her speech I could not place and looked at her again.
She was a small neat little woman with a trembling mannerism. I asked where she came from and she told me Latvia, not to be confused with Russia. She then volunteered she has been eating at Bloomingdale’s daily for years. I inquired if she lives in the neighborhood. Oh, no. She travels from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn every day by subway. One hour and twenty minutes each way to eat in the kitchen section of this prestigious store. Imagine, two hours and forty minutes for a self-service meal. Every day, five days a week, for years.
Does Bloomingdale’s realize they have the greatest living advertisement right under their nose? She should to get free meals. The lady expanded her talk and said she was not going to sit with the other old people in the park or on the boardwalk. And she would rather spend time in the subway reading her book, return home and watch television.
That’s her day and she considers it well spent. She knows her personal diagnosis of the trembling is Parkinson’s disease, even though her doctor disagrees. She doesn’t trust doctors and “they know nothing.”
She came to the U.S. 35 years ago with her family and was a math teacher. She gave me her name and told me this was her whole story.
Getting off the stool, dressed in overlong jeans and sneakers, she shuffled away. Her face had distinctive features and I could picture the young woman she must have been. Intelligent, strong, willful and unusually attractive.
After her departure, I remained seated, almost in a trance. Her story stayed in my mind long after I left. She had made my day.
Should I come back again to the eatery on the sixth floor and look for her or just keep the memory of our conversation intact? Sometimes a perfect moment does not require a second act.