In a 10 am staff meeting, I was asked by my client to attend a 3 pm meeting later that day. "Of course, I'll be happy to leave this building, get back to my office, then travel back here for another meeting this afternoon," I didn't say. It's not really that far, and I didn't really mind. So, 3 pm found me back at the client's location, where I was thanked very much for coming back, we really appreciate it, and now please sit in this chair here in the hallway and we'll call you in when we're ready for you.
Right. I'll be happy to sit in this chair, it looks delightful. I particularly like the dilapidated ones, how did you know?
(Ticking clock theme plays here, ticking away 35 very billable minutes.)
The door opens, rousing me from happy thoughts of deep-vein thrombosis, and the meeting breaks up. "Ah, sorry about that, we had to break up and we didn't get to you! Well, let me bring you over to so-and-so, you can help her with something and it won't have been a wasted trip!"
"Ah, Meester Client, I call no trip wasted that includes the honor of seeing you." The hardest thing to fake is sincerity, and I do it well. I talk to so-and-so for almost 15 seconds while she thanks me for helping but she's late for another meeting, sorry, and I use the "call no trip wasted" line again, which I actually carry off pretty well.
The down button, the elevator, and I steam through the exit of the building realizing that if I go straight back to my office, I'm likely to tear someone's head off. I notice that the shoe shine lady in front of the Metrorail is unencumbered by customers, and remember that I've been meaning to have my shoes shined for nearly 2 years. This seems a good way to stare into space for 8 minutes, calm down a bit.
For $5, this woman is sitting below me, level with my feet, shining my shoes. Even as the BigUglyManDoll, I can't help but feel exploitive - the classic imagery of the White Man keepin' ya down. As I'm distracting myself with these lingering thoughts of subliminal racial guilt, glancing down the shirt of this attractive East European woman with limited English and a flair for waxing shoes, another potential customer walks up. He's carrying a portable DVD player, on which he is watching a movie while he walks through the Metro station. He stops to blatantly check out the shoe shine woman, then asks her about his shoes, her hours, and how long it will take. Glancing back and forth between her answers and his movie, he decides to come back later, and disappears down the escalator into the Metro station with his movie. As he was talking to the shoe shinestress, I caught a glimpse of what was keeping him so riveted to the screen.
"Boom shaka-laka-laka / Chicka-bow chicka bow-bow..." Yep, good old fashioned porn. With this here new portable DVD player, I can ride the subway from Riverside to Beachmont to Glenmont to Suitland and never miss a stroke, baby! Yeah, none of that artistic softcore namby pamby, give me the good old tongue-in-groove hardcore chicka-bow-bow, baby.
Wow. All the folks upstairs did was leave me cooling my heels in the hallway – this guy is an asshole. I tipped the cute shoe shinestress an extra $5, just for having to put up with people who need to get their freak on ALL THE TIME.
This morning, just to help me refine my understanding of what it means to be an idiot, I boarded the subway and watch the doors close. As I watched, they opened again, as they sometimes do. As they closed again, a woman pushing a stroller, complete with small child, jumped to the doors and wedged them open by means of inserting the stroller between the doors. The stroller was pinched by the Metro doors (which were not opening), unable to move forward or backward, and now in some danger of being carried willy-nilly down the tracks, like a toddler's trainjacking gone awry.
The woman was yelling at the driver of the train, who was so far down the other side of the platform as to be in the next station, and anyway out of shouting range. Being the BigUglyManDoll, I was obligated to put down my book and force the doors open, letting the woman and child all the way onto the train and getting my hands and shirt filthy in the process. The woman had the grace to thank me and actually looked quite pleased with herself, having not only leveraged her small child into and out of danger, but gotten on the train as well. The driver managed to get all the doors to close at the same time, and then to stay closed, and we moved to the next station. They cheerfully got off there, navigating the stroller and the now-open doors without further incident. The total distance she'd fought so hard to travel was less than 3 blocks.
And so today, I have a deeper appreciation for what it really means to be an idiot, and to be an asshole. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my freak on.