Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK Monday

Overnight temperatures have dropped to the 20’s, and the furnace has been getting a workout. I switch off the pilot light before going to bed. First thing in the morning I pad to the garage, relight the pilot, and warm the house to 65 degrees. Yes, I save a few pennies on my gas bill, but I’ve nearly exhausted my stash of matches. Restaurants and hotels don’t advertise on matchbooks any more. A dying way of life.

The frost has killed the flowers that had survived the previous five winters. The beds need to be rototilled anyway, another task for March. I turn on the sprinklers to see if the pipes have frozen. No, it’s not that cold yet.

On the bright side, the frost has killed the weeds, too.

Many people have the day off on Martin Luther King Day, but not me. The express train in which I frequently have to stand is nearly empty, and I wallow in the luxury of laying my briefcase and overcoat in the seat next to me.

I spot Bob perusing the travel ads. I met Bob nearly 30 years and three employers ago. We crossed paths at a public company, where he was an internal auditor while I was a budget analyst. Bob has gone on to some success in mortgage-loan syndications and can afford to retire but can’t bring himself to turn his back on the money.

I greet his traveling companion, his son, whom Bob is introducing to the loan business. His son is a recent graduate of the University of Florida, the national champion of college football and basketball. Bob with a hint of pride says that the U of Florida’s academic star is rapidly rising, too. Well, that’s the path that Notre Dame and USC took---become an athletic powerhouse, and the academics will follow. His son looks on impassively while Bob continues to brag; I don’t mind, he’s a good kid.

At Fourth and King I bade farewell to my seatmates. The wind blew through my thin overcoat. It reminded me of my own miserable college winters when I couldn’t wait to get indoors. Also like college, with unattractive options outdoors and the added factor of a quiet holiday phone, I stayed in and got a lot done. A good start to the week. © 2007 Stephen Yuen

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