Thursday, December 21, 2017

Parking Lot Day Brightener

"You haven't changed a bit!"

One recent sunny Monday afternoon, my wife and I went grocery shopping, as is our custom, after I had finished my work at my parish. She had her list, I had mine, both of them on our trusty smartphones, and mostly containing the same items. ( We live in the same house, after all, and view the same grocery inventory. ) I dropped her off at the door and parked the car as far from the building as possible; I like the walk.

After we had corralled all we needed and almost finished checking out, I left her with the groceries, the cart, and the job of paying for them and went to get the car. We've ritualized this; I bring the car to the entrance, we load the trunk, and she doesn't need to walk to the car parked in the far reaches of the parking lot.

As I was walking down a parking lane, cars parked on both left and right, I noticed a car a couple ahead of me with the engine running and backup lights on. I slowed down, both to make sure I was not in the way of this vehicle and to clearly indicate to the driver that I wasn't going to walk into his path.

As the car backed up, the driver got to approximately even with me and the car stopped. The driver rolled her window down. The female driver said, "DecisionOne?" referring to a company whose local call-center was once across the street from where we were and is now a couple miles further south. That company is my former employer, and the one from which I retired.

A little unsure what was happening, I said, "Yes."

"You still there?" the driver asked.

"No; been gone for 6 years," I replied.

"Hmm; that's about how long I've been gone."

With that, she rolled up the window and began backing again, turning the car to go from where I had come. I continued walking to my car, and noticed her car stopped moving ( again ). The front passenger window rolled down; "I don't remember your name," she called.

I took a step or two closer; "Walter Jost." I vaguely remembered the driver's face. "And I don't remember your name, either."

She gave me her name. A light went on in my head; nice woman. "You haven't changed a bit; nice to see you," she said, as the window rolled up and the car slowly pulled away.

"You haven't changed much, either."

I kind of floated the rest of the way to my car, struck with the realization of how a chance encounter with an ex-colleague, a colleague with whom I was hardly close, a colleague from a long time ago, can make an otherwise ordinary day seem extraordinary.

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