It's almost old history by now but I have to finish the story.
Swirling traffic finally spit me out into a parking lot. Drifting towards the edge of the current I found a relatively quiet place to park Elvira. Both of us crave elbow room and we find a tiny bit of blessed breathing room.
The telephoto lense compressed the distance. It was actually a nice little walk to get to Sears. Just after dismounting and pulling my helmet off a guy walked by. He'd parked close by, probably figuring it was easier to follow somebody than to blaze his own trail. As the guy passed, he said,
I couldn't hear him clearly at first, not having gotten to pulling my ear plugs out, yet. So I asked him to repeat what he had said.
"Nice bike! Nice BMW."
I looked closely at the man's face but saw he was serious. I guess some of the things we take for granted aren't as obvious to others without the same interests. The man's statement was meant as a compliment so I let it rest and took it that way. Elvira doesn't care, either. Call her a wife or a mistress, as long as you tell her she's pretty!
Having my priorities dictated to me I headed directly upstairs in Sears. The restrooms are at the rear after you get off the escalator. On the way I passed a female clerk. She didn't see me until I got close to her. She thought she was alone while putting some stuff back on a rack. Her face was etched with battle weariness. Seeing me, though, she somehow pulled a genuine smile out of the depths of her soul and gave it to me as a gift. Gotta love people like her.
Feeling so much better than I can describe, I exited the restroom and went looking for a bite to eat. I know it's kind of like having one foot in quicksand and then firmly inserting the other. What can I say? I was already there and riding in the cold burns a lot of calories.
Negotiating heavy human traffic in the mall felt like swimming in a crowded aquarium. Outside the stores the corridors are big and well lit from above. Combined with the big glass storefronts it does feel a lot like an aquarium. Full of other fish. I'll share a little secret with you that makes navigating around people coming at you just a little easier. In case you hadn't discovered this for yourself.
Oftentimes a person coming towards you will glance ever so slightly in the direction they intend to pass you on. You have to watch closely as it sometimes is just a flicker of their eyes. Knowing this makes things smoother. Although this secret is proving less useful as more and more people seem to be freaking oblivious. That's all I'm going to say about that as I can feel my blood pressure rising.
Upstairs in the food court I followed my usual method of picking out what I wanted to eat. Which place has the shortest line? Subway was packed, as was Panda Express. Sbarro's is way over-priced. Taco Time had a two day waiting list. So the little stand offering Greek fast food was the choice. There was only one guy in line. I really didn't want to spend time pondering why the place wasn't busy. I chalked it up to people not being able to think for themselves and bravely ordered a steak Gyro.
This was only the third one I'd ever eaten. I'm pretty sure none of them have actually been authentic. Seems like for a true Gyro there is only one way to prepare the meat even if the sauce might differ. Maybe Nikos could help us out there. Gyro in hand I went in search of, believe it or not, more coffee. I know, fools rush in.....
I almost abandoned the quest when I saw the line at Starbucks. There are two of them in this mall. Pretty posh, eh? I tend to prefer the newer store because someone I know works there. This day she happened to be working which proved a real blessing!
Quick background. When I'm in the Portland area I often use one of the nearby malls as an office. They have coffee, food, restrooms, and a place to sit. Makes a great office away from the office. At Washington Square I tend to favor some chairs right next to the North entrance of Nordstroms. This is also close to a Shutterbug camera shop ( cool, huh? ) and some sort of spa.
One day last year there was this ebony skinned young girl sitting in the chairs across from me. I knew she worked at the spa. I finished a call to my mother and looked over at the girl. I told her she was a perfect advertisement for the salon. She just has these natural Ivory Girl good looks. She thought it was sweet that I regularly called my mother. Mind you, I never flirt with other women. I'm still totally taken with Katie. Women seem to relax and feel safe around me. I hope to God it's because of my attitude and not because they don't find me potent in a masculine sort of way!
Long story short this girl and I got to where we would chat when I was in my "office". She'd come out and sit for a few minutes when she could. She'd tell me about her young son and I'd tell her about Ryan. Then I didn't see her for a while. One day she showed up working at the Starbucks. She told me she was tired of pampered rich bitches and the new job worked out better for her situation as a single mother.
Seeing me walking away due to the long line she called out to me. I always order a 12 oz. plain coffee. My friend brought it out to me and I gave her the money. They say it's great to have friends. One of these days I hope to find out for myself!
Wanting a view while I ate ( such as it was ) I went back upstairs and found a table in the food court. It overlooked a main corridor of the mall. While I was sitting there a group of folks brought a tray of sandwiches and sat down. Actually, one person carried the tray but they all sat. These were folks from a group home, out for lunch. Near to me was a strapping young man that looked like a corn fed farmboy. He looked like perhaps he was challenged with something like Downs Syndrome. Perched on top of his head was this big black ten gallon hat. Anybody looking at the young man could tell this big hat was really special to him.
You know, I could totally relate. After all, I'd been walking around the mall carrying my Arai helmet in my hand. My helmet is pretty special to me, too. I admired his hat. He admired my helmet. It was a short exchange as he got distracted by one of the caretakers, but I considered it a pleasant addition to my day. Years and years ago I filled in for a month on a morning bus route. The bus was for people going to work at a rehabilitation center. It was a valuable education in getting to know people before we make a judgement. On my last day of driving every single passenger handed me a hand-made card of thanks and saying goodbye. I wish my heart were always as pure as theirs.
Arriving back at Elvira, who'd been patiently waiting for me, I was greeted by this sight.
Calling Elvira a BMW was one thing. Parking this truck next to her is another. Since the trailer stated it was a veteran owned business I decided to shrug it off and quietly head out. We were both glad to leave the crowded mall and head for freedom.
We didn't see any other bikes all day. We did, however, get to enjoy a stretch of highway with the late afternoon winter sunshine gently washing over us. Nothing warms a cold day like a bit of sunshine brightening your visor. Life isn't too bad, is it?
Miles and smiles,