Monday, March 12, 2007

Nine o'clock guy

Every morning I buy a newspaper from an older guy (who looks disconcertingly like my father) near the turnstiles at my subway stop. A few weeks ago, he started to call me "nine o'clock guy" -- as in, "Hey, there's my nine o'clock guy!" and "Well, it must be nine o'clock!" I'm genuinely puzzled by this. Don't most commuters go to work at about the same time every morning? Why am I singled out? I know the guy is just trying to be nice, and by the time he sees me, he's sick of commenting on the weather, or he's been underground so long he forgets what it's like outside. But I feel pressured to come up with some response to him (other than my weak "Oh, that's right, ha ha"), so that some day I'll look back fondly on our ritual. Yes, I remember when people read things called newspapers. I bought mine from good old Ernie [or whatever the hell his name is]. Every morning, without fail, he'd say, "Hey, here's my nine o'clock guy!" And I would always respond, "Nine o'clock is still too early for me, Ernie! I'm jumping in front of the next train!" But I never did. I'll always regret that. Last week I had to go into the office an hour earlier than usual, and when Ernie saw me, he feigned shock and kept pointing to his watch. I had to smile and give an appreciative nod for this silent-movie performance before I could get my newspaper. Hopefully, the Boston Globe will go out of business and I'll be rid of this awkward moment every morning.

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