Monday, January 16, 2006

The Meeting

I imagined the meeting in my mind. I would arrive early and wait for her. I'd sit at a table near the entrance where I could see her approaching. I would have my usual drink, a non-fat, short, double latte. I hadn't yet decided if I would get myself a drink first or wait for her to arrive before offering to get drinks for both of us.

My cell phone rang at 6:45 pm. I was late. "I'm on my way down. I'll be right there." My meeting was not going according to plan. I'd been thrown off my game. I was nervous. I was worried. I was scared.

I couldn't find her, and I thought I was looking everywhere. I was certain that I'd recognize her when I saw her. We met at a conference for professionals in our field just over two months ago. We had lunch at the same table and spoke briefly during one of the many coffee breaks. I wouldn't forget her face. Eventually, she saw me from the table she was sitting at behind the pillar.

She looked exactly like I had remembered her. She had just sat down at a table full of used plates and paper cups. Among the clutter sat her large starbucks, made-in-china coffee mug with two earl grey teabags. "I'm sorry I'm late. I actually was on my way but I realized I forgot your cell number so I ran back to get it."

"Don't worry about it." I excused myself to get a drink. "I'll be right back!"

When I returned, the table had been cleared. I saw her returning from the counter with the trash can in it as I came back to the table. I was moved by her effort, especially in Hong Kong where clearing your own table isn't even something that's done in a fast food restaurant. I saw it as her clearing the way for our meeting of the minds.

A conversation ensued like one that you'd expect between two people who barely know each other. Present geographic location; present geographic location of your employer; brief work history; family history; education history; marital status; people we shared a connection to. Eventually, we connected over how the uncertainty of life seemingly coexists with the surety of job dissatisfaction, both of us, in the same field, wondering how and when to get out.

"It was nice to see you!"

"It was nice to see you," she replied as we parted, both of us wondering if we'd meet again.


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