The workplace has had an air of sadness lately. I’ve been feeling it between my filth matches with the red rot and dust on the crumbling records whose data I’ve been gathering and my much cleaner if more mind-consuming task of designing a database in which to keep the data. The higher-ups are re-organizing the maintenance, custodial, and security staff in the library system to save money. I don’t know what to say to my friend who won’t be coming to work after June 30. The decision seems abrupt. I know he must feel disrespected and discarded.
I spent my morning break, as usual, on a diet coke and a spinach croissant at the cafe in the building next door. As I walked over, rain sprinkled onto the brick sidewalk and onto me, although it barely wetted anything. It did, however, fill the air with its sweat and its smell.* I remembered another rainy day when I was in college. The rain fell full that day, splunking down onto the concrete and into the puddles it had already formed. The paved surfaces of campus were glossed with running water and the grassy areas soaked in it. I had no umbrella. In those days, I rarely sought out weather reports or even looked outside before heading to class. So, when I approached the exit of Ayers Hall after The History of American Culture and saw the rain, all I could do was sigh and slosh on outside.
About halfway home, a girl, a stranger, who had been alert enough to bring an umbrella, caught up with me and offered to share. No one else had even seemed to notice me, sopping and scurrying through the rushing crowd. I said, “Thank You,” but didn’t know what else to say as we walked together. I was shy. She made small talk though, and we learned that we were both Wendy. She covered me all the way back to my dorm, where I thanked her again and we parted ways. I can still remember pieces of her. She was about my height. She had brown hair that curled loosely. She wore light blue jeans and a jacket, not too stylish. Clean cut. I’ve thought about that day now and then since it passed. I thought of it today, a kindness revisited.
*A couple came into the Search Room today, to research some family history. They mentioned they were on their way to a motorcycle convention in North Carolina and had driven their motorcycles on the trip. They had a smell to them, not a stink, but a certain smell I couldn’t figure out. Then, I realized it was rain. Rushing through the moist air dotted with spits of rain had changed them into slightly different creatures.