I Spoke to this Strange Man

by Shaina

The other day on my way home from work.  I was walking.  He couldn’t find Pace University, and I directed him, even though I wasn’t really sure where it was.  Sadly, I had prompted him in the direction I was walking.  I said OK have a good day.  He said thank you but kept stride with me and asked me what I do in the area.  I said I live here, which made me think maybe that was a not great answer but then I realized this is Manhattan and I’m an adult and he doesn’t have candy or a car or anything good and is probably old enough to take down or outrun.  We have a conversation, which chips at me some.  His son is a freshman.  My siblings are sophomores in college.  We say things about things.  He has to turn right, which annoys me, because it takes a lot for me to talk to anyone, and I’m in the middle of a sentence.  I feel life is a rude thing.  But then I’m glad to stop talking again.

The next day, I go home on the bus.  A tiny Asian boy throws up bile on the floor, and as I’m sitting in a sideways seat, it slowly inches toward my shoes.  I watch it.  I don’t want to get bile on my shoes.  His mother is doing a bad job of wiping it up, because she is starting in the middle of the bile trail instead of at the front of it.  I feel this is unjust, so I don’t move my feet, because I don’t think my life should be impacted by this vomit.  It’s not mine.  It isn’t anyone’s I belong to.  And I win.  My stop precedes the impact, and I leave.