An Unexpected Morning

This morning isn’t what I expected.  I left a few minutes early this morning so I could stop at the grocery store and pick up a thank you treat for a co-worker. That grocery store, with its breakfast bar and coffee shop doesn’t open until 8am. Weird.

So, on I go to drop my car off at the mechanic. I love that mechanic shop. The guys working there are several varieties of rough looking and based on stereotypes, you’d think they were biker gang drug runners or something similarly distressing. But, they are unfailingly polite, treat me like a customer instead of an inconvenience and as far as I can tell, completely honest. A friend of mine has done their accounting for them for years because he was so impressed by them. Yes, he gets paid for it, no, he’s not their bookie.

I was 2 miles from work with no car after that, so, I thought I’d try out the Street car. It’s only a dollar and I was feeling a little too lazy to walk. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. At a little before 8am on a weekday, in downtown Portland, there were only 2 other people at the stop. When I got on the street car, it was the three of us and 2 other people. The streets were packed with cars, and the streetcar was nearly empty. Somewhere, something has gone wrong with this part of public transit. The next stop was a good clue about that. 3 people got on: A quiet lady with a walker, a large man with many bags and a tall thin man who moved frenetically around. The large guy carefully picked out a seat and spent a couple of minutes arranging his bags around him, then started muttering to himself. As we passed a group of men standing on the sidewalk, his volume increased and the words I could understand involved ‘get a job’ and some racial slurs. The frenetic guy started moving from person to person asking if their cell phone worked. When he got to the section I was sitting in, he sprawled across the seat in front of a lady and leaned over the back of the seat to get within inches of her face while demanding to know about her cell phone. I’m guessing she commutes on public transit regularly, because she didn’t flinch or respond. Although I’m pretty sure I could hear her mental eye roll and sigh. And that was my stop so off I go to walk the last block to work.

I walked through the parking garage a couple of feet behind one of the security guards apparently startling him. He spun around and a prescription bottle of pills flew out of his pocket. They’re probably something innocuous like blood pressure medicine, but an easily startled, slightly guilty looking security guard makes me wonder. It felt a little like that moment early in a movie when the director leaves the camera on an inconsequential object for just a second too long.

Waiting for the elevator an older lady joined me. She was probably my height when she was my age, but now, she’s 4 or 5 inches shorter with a bowed spine that cants off to the left a bit. Her hair was perfectly arranged, she was wearing impeccably applied makeup and she’s probably in her 80s. She’s not retired, she works here and she was on her way to her desk. We had a pleasant conversation on the ride up. It sounds like she enjoys her job and isn’t interested in retiring.

Afterward, at my desk, I kept thinking: I may not feel pretty, but I am. And it’s temporary. I may not feel as healthy as I want to, but I can still move and reach and bend. I should enjoy that, because it’s temporary. I may feel like my mind is coming apart at the seams sometimes, but it’s really not. And I’m grateful.

And if the grocery store had been open, I wouldn’t have been thinking about this before I finished my coffee this morning.

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Vivien NicUldoon

Vivien lives in Portland Oregon with two cats, a smart dog, a happy dog and a brilliant husband.