AtoZ Challenge – C is for: Can I help you?

C2020

I had once said that Grand Central Station, in New York, was large enough you could get lost in it.  Especially if you were from out of town.

I know, I was from out of town, and though I didn’t quite get lost, back then I had to ask directions to go where I needed to.

It was also an awe-inspiring place, and whenever I had a spare moment, usually at lunchtime, I would go there and just soak in the atmosphere. It was large enough to make a list of places to visit, or find, or get a photograph from some of the more obscure places.

Today, I was just there to work off a temper. Things had gone badly at work, and even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, I still felt bad about it.

I came in the 42nd street entrance and went up to the balcony that overlooked the main concourse. A steady stream of people was coming and going, most purposefully, a few were loitering, and several police officers were attempting to move on a vagrant. It was not the first time.

But one person caught my eye, a young woman who had made a circuit of the hall, looked at nearly every destination board, and appeared to be confused. It was the same as I had felt when I first arrived.

Perhaps I could help.

The problem was, a man approaching a woman from out of left field would have a very creepy vibe to it, so it was probably best left alone.

Another half-hour of watching the world go by, I had finally got past the bad mood and headed back to work. I did a wide sweep of the main concourse, perhaps more for the exercise than anything else, and had reached the clock in the center of the concourse when someone turned suddenly and I crashed into them.

Not badly, like ending up on the floor, but enough for a minor jolt. Of course, it was my fault because I was in another world at that particular moment.

“Oh, I am sorry.” A woman’s voice, very apologetic.

I was momentarily annoyed, then, when I saw who it was, it passed. It was the lost woman I’d seen earlier.

“No. Not your fault, but mine entirely. I have a habit of wandering around with my mind elsewhere.”

Was it fate that we should meet like this?

I noticed she was looking around, much the same as she had before.

“Can I help you?”

“Perhaps you can. There’s supposed to be a bar that dates back to the prohibition era here somewhere. Campbell’s Apartment, or something like that. I was going to ask…”

“Sure. It’s not that hard to find if you know where it is. I’ll take you.”

It made for a good story, especially when I related it to the grandchildren, because the punch line was, “and that’s how I met your grandmother.”

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