Island of Lost SOLs: Close Encounters on the A

I stepped onto the A-train the other morning and was immediately greeted by a smiling face and a warm “Hello!”  I looked at him — a small, young black man, face like a fifteen-year-old, blue scrubs and a baseball cap.  No recognition.  No, wait — is he my neighbor, the cute young guy who salts the path for me when I come out in the winter? Maybe? I smile and say hi.

“I ain’t seen you in a minute!”

Ok, that’s true.  I haven’t seen my neighbor since the last snowstorm.  But I thought he was taller … and a little cuter.

“I’m late this morning,” he says.  LOUD.  “Drank too much last night.”

“Um, I’m late, too.”  This isn’t the kind of conversation my neighbor and I ever have.  Maybe he’s not my neighbor?

“I’m working as a home health aide now.”

“Yeah?  I didn’t know.  That’s great.”  And maybe an answer.  Maybe he was in our training program?  He’s so loud.  Surely I’d remember someone so loud.

He starts telling me — practically shouting — about the particularly graphic aspects of his work.  I look away, sorry to be inflicting him on my fellow A-train riders, not sure how to stop him.

But he stops himself.  “You’re looking gorgeous, as always.”

Yeah, because that’s a way one of our students would ever be talking to me.  So he’s not from my program?  And, too, who wants to be told she’s gorgeous by a loud, hungover guy who has no qualms talking about enemas at nine in the morning in the middle of a crowded subway car?  His announcement makes a whole lot of people turn to take a look at what must surely be my mortified face.

“I’m tired is what I am,” is all I can think to say.  “And late for work.”

“Don’t worry.  You’ll be there by 9:30.”

And see?  That makes me think I do know him.  But I don’t.  I have a strong memory for faces.  I need to trust that, to know that I really don’t know this guy.  But here I am, stuck in a very public conversation with him.  Too late to step back and declare him a stranger.

We pull into Jay Street, and I move for the door, clearly indicating that this is my stop.  He pulls out his cell.

“You got a number?

Seriously?  Seriously? Because now I’m sure of it: I don’t know this man.  But what I can’t guess is: does he actually think he knows me, or is this a thing he does to try to get women’s numbers?

“I do, ” I say, “but I’m not giving it out.”

He just laughs.  “That’s ok,” he says as I leave the train.  “I’ll see you again.  I see you all the time!”

I sincerely hope that’s not true.  Too weird.  Just too weird.  And how much did I want to announce to everyone on that train that I didn’t know that man at all?


2 thoughts on “Island of Lost SOLs: Close Encounters on the A

  1. Wow and wow and, well, wow.

    Some people really don’t have a clue. Although, for someone who sees you “all the time”, it is very telling that he had to be hungover to speak to you.


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