A phone was ringing. It was a late hour, but I thought it was Dad calling. I couldn’t get to the phone. I had my backpack on with my laptop and was heading for work.
I was in an airport, walking with others, none recognized from RL. We were gathered into a white side room to pick up our paychecks. They hadn’t been delivered on time to the regular place, and this was where we’d been sent to get them. We milled through with many others, then realized there were lines. People working with us weren’t in a line, so we formed one. We met with a rep, a tanned white male with a tired face. He was a friend of sorts but also upper management. He told us our paychecks were coming, that there’d been some issue, yada, yada, and the checks would be here later today.
‘Later today’ came. We returned to the room. Far fewer people were present. In fact, it was really only my group. The management friend never showed up. Neither did our checks. Disappointed, we left.
I got in line to have a sandwich made at a Subway shop. I’d been there many times before and the staff and I knew one another. The lines were long and so was the wait. When it was finally my turn, I ordered a sub sandwich only to be told that it was after five o’clock.
I looked at the clock; they were right, it was now a few minutes after five. I protested, because I’d been in line before five, and appealed to their sense of right. I appealed the time, too, arguing that it was just a few minutes after five, what difference could a few minutes make? And, I was a regular.
They would not make me a sandwich but offered me something else for free. I thought I’d get something for my wife, so, mollified, I started ordering. After a few minutes, the guy behind the counter said, “That’s just another sandwich.”
I realized that he was right. I started apologizing and held up a large quantity of paper money. I said, “I can pay for it.”
The counterman took all the sandwich ingredients and wordlessly slid them onto the floor in front of me. He then took all the money from my hand and drop it on top of the food on the floor. I protested again, “I forgot, I didn’t realize.” Then, seeing the futility of that effort, I picked up my money and rushed off into the airport to catch my flight. As I went, I kept telling myself, “I really forgot. I really did.”