Yesterday I counted on the train to show up, the clerk at the station to be on time to sell me some tea, and the traffic lights to work. I relied on the gates to be opened by the staff, the train to have been cleaned others, and my ticket to be scanned accurately.
I also counted on my fellow passengers to take turns, stay within the invisible boundaries of their seat, and reserve their loudest voices for any impending danger. Unfortunately, I was unrealistic about these issues. The guy next to me spoke for 90 minutes to the woman in front of us. Neither wanted to move; they preferred loud talking. The guy gestured, too. To his right was the aisle, where he positioned his smart phone in an outstretched hand. To his left was me, where he swung his left arm periodically to emphasize the size of his recent home sale offer, the degree of his incredulity over the way some people at work act, and the delight in his chance to facilitate focus groups for his employer over the next two days.
I now know the emoji he used in his response to pictures of the most recent antics of his dogs. I also sense that the guy ahead of me, trying to complete a job interview by phone, was testing his last nerve as the duo went on about their avatars. I know by name the colleague whom they ridicule for his mysterious absences from work. I know, too, that there is a pending indictment somewhere among their friends for voter fraud.
Clearly, one cannot count on these co-workers for the judicious application of privacy and decorum.
Yesterday I also counted on my village’s water utility, We Energies services, and Time Warner internet service. Two out of three did not disappoint. I counted on sanitation workers to show up, neighbors to organize their trash so it would not blow around, and passersby to avoid littering. Again, two out of three did not disappoint.
I also relied on my postal worker, my banker, my accountant, tax preparer, and the cab driver.
It strikes me today that I need to interview people much more carefully than I do. Maybe something like, “Will you talk smack about me when I leave?”