sometime past six. not much left to do. time to leave, get home, cook some food (probably should use the rest of my leftover rice). turn off lights, last one on this floor, put on mask out of habit. walk to the foyer. hit the button for the elevator. wait. wait a little bit longer. hear the ding, turn like pavlov's dog. get on elevator. hit button.
elevator is moving. how am I going to make that leftover rice edible? does rice go bad? it must. I shrug to myself. oh! I know! add some scrambled eggs, make it fried rice. yeah now we're tal-. DING. oh great, someone else is still here? makes sense, lot of floors in this building.
girl gets on. vaguely know her. I know a very specific fact about her, that she can't eat raw onions. I know this because she has ordered a certain bistro sandwich for which she takes great pains to mention that raw onions are a disagreeable proposition for her stomach. she's kind of cute. tall, very dark red dyed hair. slim with freckles, in those not quite high heels but platform-like shoes (no idea what they are called). pretty much as tall as I am all told.
she's getting on now. something is wrong. the look in her eyes.
she let's out what we in German call a "saufzer" (we have words for everything). it's a very specific form of sigh that indicates pain. sort of like you are inhaling and exhaling a sob at the same time.
oh shit. I freeze. we have about maybe 10 (15?) seconds on this elevator.
oh fuck what do I do? do I acknowledge the saufzer?
why would someone do that unless they want it acknowledged?
she must at least want SOMEONE/ANYONE to know she is not right. but time is so short. and now she's standing next to me (well on the other side of the elevator as good COVID protocol dictates). I'm staring straight ahead into the somewhat fuzzy metallic reflection staring back at me. I quickly allow my eyes to glance to the left just slightly to catch her reflection. she's looking at me.
"you okay? rough day?"
she jus stands there. continues to stare at me. I can't really make out her expression because of her mask. her eyes just look hurt. exhausted. done. she castes them down, turns to the front of the elevator. sighs again.
"no. I mean. yeah. I mean rough day." she responds.
we've arrived at lobby.
I stand in my corner, racking my brain about how lame my inquiry was. then I was really starting to kick myself for even having said anything, but she just seemed like she wanted me to say something, I mean who gets onto an elevator with another person and sighs like that?
"thanks for asking. good night" she says.
she turns left to the garage and I turn right to walk home.