With greasy hair and yesterday’s clothing we boarded the trolley at 7:00 AM on Friday morning. I balanced with a crate in my left hand, holding onto the bar with my right while I squeezed as far down the crowded aisle as I could. My boyfriend scouted for seats, finally snagging one for me after we had already pulled underground a solid ten minutes later. Fast forward to a minute after sitting down. A woman rises from her seat and pushes her way down the aisle towards the back exit, but before leaving she gives me some serious stink eye.
“You brought your cat on the trolley?!”
It sounds innocent enough when written down, but her harsh, judgmental tone cut through my already self-conscious thoughts.
I could have fought back with snark. We thought she’d like it! You know, Friday morning rush hour, just riding the rails with our cat. We’re doing this for her!
Or bitchier. I can’t believe you brought yourself on the trolley.
Or simpler. Fuck off.
“We have to go to the vet,” I responded. As curt as I could. Which, in all honesty, probably didn't sound curt at all. For those that don’t know me, it was probably not in any way evident that I was steaming underneath. I tend to grin and bear it, as they say, or to think of something way better to say after a solid five minutes (and then write it down). The woman of course, repeated herself after she got off the trolley to the man she was with, somehow loud enough that I could hear her through the still open doors.
My poor little feisty ball of fur. It’s not like Claudia, my kitten, was the first pet to ever travel on board Septa, nor will she be the last. For three days I watched as she refused to eat, vomited, and snuggled at my feet. I tried can after can of food. Perhaps she was just being as snobby as I when it comes to brands and had decided that her Friskies Tuna shreds were below her. Perhaps she craved the organic lobster and tuna in a crab meat sauce that I could purchase for quadruple the price. The selections were unending, but her lack of appetite continued.
Now I’ve been taking Septa almost every day for the last five years. I’ve traveled with huge suitcases, grocery bags piled at my feet, and even huge potted plants that would have been really comfortable in their own personal spot. I spent three months commuting with a gigantic boot on my leg and only on a handful of occasions was I offered a seat. Septa even came out with new signs on board the trolley this year that read:
DUDE, IT’S RUDE...
because a whole lot of people refuse to scooch over or put their backpack on their lap. Some days we've got a few people competing over who can play their music louder, or someone’s picking a fight because another person bumped into them, or there’s probably some kids and/or parents yelling. It seems too often people don't offer their seat to a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or someone carrying a young child or a stroller. Instead, (and I am guilty of it too) we sit with our headphones in and our phones out, ignoring the people around us until we see something we don’t like.
You never call. You never write. At most you’ll send me an email when you’ve decided to move forward in your relationship with someone else, which, to be perfectly honest, seems a little callous when we haven’t even had the chance to discuss where things were going between us first. I know these things happen, and people just fall out of touch, but it feels like I’m putting in all the effort and you’re just playing hard to get.
Like last week, when you called and asked me what I was looking for. I told you I wanted to experience life: explore new adventures, learn new skills, meet new friends and collaborators. You asked if I thought I could do that with you and I said yes, without a doubt, with conviction and strength and bravery. You said you would call back within 48 hours and now it’s been an entire week! Every telephone ring I look for your number on the screen. Phantom cell phone vibrations haunt me in my sleep. I can’t work, I can’t focus, I can’t stop thinking about you and the way I imagined your suit and tie and your corner office with catered Friday lunches.
All my friends tell me I shouldn’t call you; that it’s a waste of time and you’re not worth it. Or worse, that you might think I’m desperate or clingy when all I want are some answers. When can I come in to meet you? What hours will I work? Is there room in that office for me? But if I call you’ll think I’m a loser, or just incapable of following instructions, but you, you are worse. You’re a liar who never called! And maybe I shouldn’t harass you with a follow up email, but I just want to make sure everything is in order and that you’re still alive and in business. My grandfather responds faster to an email than you do. I mean, are you really qualified to make this sort of administrative decision when you clearly struggle with responding to your own correspondence?
I know a lot of people are interested in you. How could they not be? You’re successful, talented, creative, and rolling in the dough. You’ve got a lot to offer a girl like me, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. So I want you to know that I’m fully aware that you’re getting a lot of other offers to consider, and you should. I’m not going to be the girl to write you a cliche letter telling you that you are the coffee to my early mornings, the champagne to my mimosas, or the Sriracha to my breakfast burrito. I just won’t. Enough is enough. I’ve told you how I feel--in fact, I’ve told you many times within the last few weeks, within the last few years--and now it’s your turn. Good or bad. I can’t not know how you feel about me any longer.
Will you hire me? (Check yes or no)
All the best,
heavy heeled when walking; heavy handed when pouring a drink