sometimes, walking in a long corridor you feel rather lonely. there are glass doors on both sides and then miles of plyboard walls. and neon lights on top that kinda blur after a while. if you shake your head and try to clear your vision, you will see people in grey uniform, almost invisible, cleaning the carpet, wiping the walls. you don't feel so lonely again. once i tried looking at one of these uniformed species and tried a smile. the uniform smiled back.
although i couldn't recognize him the next day, i made it a point to smile at most of the grey uniforms that looked at me. and then one day i spoke to one of them. he asked me if i'd had breakfast. a funny question and he has nothing to do with it, but i guess that is considered a courteous question. to ask if one has had breakfast or lunch or dinner according to the time of the day or night you meet. usually, the neons blur when the mp3 player is playing Golden Hair, but by the time it comes to Sting, they brighten up. all in the mind, i tell you. what if i tell him i haven't had breakfast? what will he do?
so another day i smiled at one of the uniforms (by now i could distinguish one from another). he smiled back and asked if i'd had breakfast. i told him i haven't and that i am rather hungry. he asked me if i had a coupon to buy breakfast from the cafetaria. i said i didn't have one. the uniform promptly took out one booklet of coupons and offered me one. we don't need these coupons, they do. i don't have food upstairs at the cafetaria. i can go out and have crabs or fish. the uniform has to have it here because he probably cannot afford to. but his generosity in offering a coupon was unfathomable to me. didn't he just sacrifice one meal?
i took the coupon and walked up. the song had changed to Fields of Gold by then and the sun shone brilliantly through the glass roof.
the next day it wasn't lonely in the corridor any more. there were real people there, some cleaning the floor, some wiping the walls . . . real people with real smiles. and no need for an mp3 player.