I just now looked out my window at work and saw him walking on the sidewalk. The timing was perfect. As luck would have it, I began writing something about him—he was front and center in my mind—and then, while I was trying figure out what I wanted to say, here he came, walking on the sidewalk right on the other side of this pane of glass.
I’ll have to keep using male pronouns when I refer to him because I don’t know his name. I do know a few things about him, though. I’ve bulleted these factoids:
- He’s in in 60s
- He wears a necktie and sweater vest every single day even when it’s very hot
- He is retired and now does part-time work in one of these offices around here in one of these buildings
- He drives a 2006 Subaru Forester station wagon
On point number four, I’d like to mention that I also drive an older model Subaru station wagon. Mine is a 2002 Legacy. That’s the difference. Here’s the similarity: Both are silver in color.
I got to know him because we work together at Palo Alto College, a little school that does yeoman’s work in an economically depressed area of south San Antonio. We also arrive at work a little earlier than is required on most mornings. (I’ll leave it to you to determine what this says about us.) Anyway, because we are such eager beavers, our cars are often the first two to arrive and are thus the only ones around. Despite having a million choices about where we might situate our rides, we both enjoy parking right next to one another. (I’m beginning to wonder if this practice isn’t turning out to be something akin an almighty Subaru show of force.)
He arrives slightly earlier than I do on some mornings. When this happens, I find him sitting behind the wheel—perhaps he is waiting for me to arrive?—and smoking. I don’t know what brand he prefers. (He’s probably a Marlboro man if I had to hazard a guess. He doesn’t wear a ten-gallon hat or chaps or anything like that, nor does he generally go unshaven for a day or so or have that rugged sunburned look, but I’m pretty sure he’s a Marlboro man nonetheless.) I pull up next to him and look across the little space that separates us and wave. He fills his lungs with smoke and nicotine and other chemically things and waves back. This is how we greet each other almost every morning.
Once parked, I’ll gather my things together and open the door to get out. Often—maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe it isn’t?—we’ll lock up at just about the same time. This synchronized exiting of vehicles gives us the opportunity to actually exchange a few words. Because we have old Subaru station wagons in common, we mostly talk about our cars. “How’s the Subaru running?” he’ll ask.
“Pretty good. About a month ago, the ‘check engine’ light came on. Other than that, pretty good. How about yours?”
“I’ve got a little engine clatter, I’m afraid,” he said earlier this week.
His mentioning of the engine gave us a chance to stand in the parking lot for five minutes and discuss the famed “boxer” motor that older Subarus are so well known for.
As soon as the engine talk was done, we walked silently, side by side, until he veered off to the left and I veered off to the right to enter Nueces Hall.
I still don’t know what his name is or where he works. Note to self: Find this out next week.