Tuesday, November 27, 2012


The evening cleaning crew comes on at work before I leave, most days. Our building empties fast. DC traffic is a formidable thing and it's popular to come to work verrrrry early and leave early, as well. I an both not a morning person and also restricted by the daycare's operating hours, so I take a different tactic and work late, past the prime of traffic and into the realm (in this season) of starlight.

There is a gentleman with an accent, Haitian maybe, who wipes down the elevator chrome. He polishes the outer button panel, carefully burnishing the plate and each individual button, then rides the elevator to each floor, opening in turn to gleam the door frames, and caring for the interior space as the box moves up and down and up. I think we have 30 elevators.

He is not casual with his work. He moves carefully and purposefully. He is attentive.

Each time he sees me he offers three salutations in turn:

"How are you?"

"Have a good evening."

"Have a blessed evening."

He laughs at each punctuation in his ritual. He waves his yellow chamois as I turn past his elevator. Sometimes I call an elevator so I may descend and I know he'll be in it, polishing, before the doors open. The lemony scent of his polish precedes him and trails him.

At the end of the day when the building is quiet and I'm in a space between work-think and mom-think I have an eight-minute walk to my car, blanketed by a smile and a benediction.

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