Someone pounded on the office door. The sign clearly says closed until 1:00pm, I thought. I looked at my watch; it read 8:45am. I guessed it was a man with something good to share, like he just won a million dollars and would be moving out of state. I tried to remain optimistic as the pounding continued.
“I’m coming,” I yelled and ran towards the door.
“Hi, what’s going on?” I asked, throwing the door open. This, for safety reasons, is never a good idea.
It was a man standing there, leaning on one hip. He wore a ball cap, blue pants and a collared shirt with black boots, his usual work uniform.
“Well, I can’t make our appointment this afternoon,” he said and pointed to his shirt as though the shirt explained everything.
I interpreted, “You have to work?”
I have become pretty good at interpreting non-verbal communication with age, but pointing still leaves questions as to exact meaning. For instance, while I thought he was pointing at his shirt, he could have been gesturing towards his chest indicating that he was about to have a heart attack, or he was pointing to his shirt pocket which was holding a lucky lottery ticket.
He nodded, confirming that I was on track, a few steps away from mind-reading.
“There’s something else you need to know. I’ve been smelling a very strong natural gas odor for the past day and a half.”
He turned and walked out the door, enough said as a man of few words.
I went out to investigate for myself. As soon as I stepped into his building, a whiff of gas swirled around me and out the door I went.
Strangely enough, the other residents were unconcerned with what was obviously a gas leak.
Two women sat on a bench in front of the building, sharing a cigarette. One wore plaid pajama pants and had dark circles under her eyes. The other had her hair pulled back into a short pony tail and wore a baggy, grey sweatshirt.
“Smells like gas in there, don’t you think?”
“Yes, I do think it smells like gas. How long has it smelled like that?”
They looked at each other, in shared reflection.
“About a day or so?” pajama pants said to the pony tail.
“Yea, about a day,” pony tail nodded her head in agreement and took a final drag from the cigarette. She threw it into the grass at her feet, oblivious to the danger of fire and gas and returned to the building that was slowly filling with noxious fumes.