Sunday, May 15, 2016

BUS STORY # 497 (Jeffrey, Part Three)

The UNM Duck Pond. Downloaded from The Pack.

You can read Parts One and Two here and here.

I trust you already understand from my telling this story that I had decided to look for some way to meet with Jeffrey* off-campus.

I imagined an exchange of email addresses at our next encounter, with a commitment to work out a meeting some weekend at a coffee shop convenient to both of us.

And you probably suspect what I already knew not all that deeply in my heart: it was curiosity as much as concern that drove my decision.

Who was this guy? Inquiring minds want to know...

It wasn’t until the end of October that I had another option to take the UNM campus route to Lomas.  I was feeling some urgency because I was being transferred to another office in another part of town in a couple of weeks.  My days of crossing the UNM campus to catch the 50 were numbered.

The 50 was late.  We had a new driver, and he was learning the route.  By the time we got to UNM, I was already close to 10 minutes later than normal.

 Sure enough, we did not cross paths that day.

Tuesday, the bus and I were back on schedule. But Jeffrey was not.

I began to wonder if there were only certain days he took this walk. Maybe it was only on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays, and that’s why I didn’t see him Tuesday.

Which made me realize how unobservant I’d been the last five months.

Now I began to think. I had been seeing him at the same time on a somewhat regular basis from roughly May through October. From a teacher’s or student’s perspective, that would cover the end of a spring semester, two summer semesters, and much of the fall semester. How likely was it either would have the same schedule all four semesters?

I thought about the time I’d seen him crossing Lomas, coming from -- I assumed -- the University Hospital. Maybe he was an outpatient coming from regularly scheduled treatments. Maybe he was a health care worker or some other type of hospital employee. Maybe he was both.

Wednesday I drove -- the demands of my work schedule for the day. That left me twice-disappointed. I have come to feel no joy whenever I have to use the car for work. And now, I was missing an opportunity to run into Jeffrey.

Thursday was looking like another strikeout until I was close to the Duck Pond. I caught site of him coming from the left -- a different direction -- and felt the combined emotions of elation and apprehension. I wanted to know more and I didn’t know what I might be getting myself into by finding out.

This time, he was wearing light khaki pants, a white collarless shirt buttoned to the neck, and a sports coat of some gray-blue weave. It made him look clerical. The courier pouch was gone. He was carrying instead a black, zippered planner.

“Jeffrey,” I called, and stopped.

He called out my name, and walked over to me. We shook hands.

I told him our last encounter had made me want to know more of his story, and that wasn’t going to happen on these chance encounters, especially since I was not going to be coming this way after next week.

He agreed the campus encounters were not the place to do this. He was on his way home himself and had a hungry cat and a neglected girlfriend to take care of.

I asked if we could exchange emails, and said I hoped we could get together for coffee sometime and exchange our stories. He seemed delighted, and gave me his email address along with this provocative comment: “I prefer the epistolary form myself. I’m rather old-fashioned in that way.” The exchange made, we shook hands again, and went our separate ways.


*Real name changed.


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