Union Station, Los Angeles, CA


“Can I just say something?” the veteran at Union Station says to me, taking the seat directly in front of me and pushing his suitcase aside and out of our line of sight.

“Um, sure,” I reply, keeping my eyes loosely fixed to the screen of my laptop.

“You just have the most gorgeous feet.”

Now Playing: “Morning Train (Nine to Five)” by Sheena Easton

What the fuck, and what a liar, I say with my head. I’ve been complimented about my hair, my smile, and my brain, but never ever my feet (which, if discussed, are done with spurn and scorn, never praise).

“Thank you,” I say this time with my mouth, looking around me. Our seat mates don’t appear to be phased. Perhaps this is a common occurrence here.

“Yeah, real gorgeous,” he mutters to himself, giving them one last look-see. He quickly averts his gaze, smiling. “You can tell a lot about a woman by her feet. Some women have feet that make you want to cut things off of them, like things a whole foot long.”

He is the only one that thinks his pun is punny and laughs to himself, by himself.

“I can tell you’re a smart cookie. Do you know them computers, the Apple ones? If I were to go buy one at a pawn shop, you know, for $100, would it be harder for me to learn an Apple than a normal computer?”

I struggle with the millions of ways I can answer this question, avoiding what I’m sure would have been a lengthy discourse about operating systems, software updates, and how any computer you’d pay $100 for will be “hard” to learn on regardless.

“Yes, it might.”

He chuckles to himself, almost in congratulations. “Thass what I thought, just what I thought.” He opens up a clear water bottle, and after taking a long sip, offers it to me and says, “swig of Scotch?”

Our seat mates still don’t appear to be phased. Perhaps this is a common occurrence as well.

“No, thank you,” I politely decline.

He asks me to reconsider. “I ain’t sellin’ – I’m offerin’. Just for the record. You can always use a little whisky, no matter where you’re going. And where was that again? And what was your name again?”

I haven’t told you either.

“You know what, though? The great thing about the West Coast is that people aren’t just always ‘going,’ they’re ‘fro-ing’ – and you’re always headed to places you’ve already been to.”

The 9:55 AM Pacific Surfliner to San Diego can’t come soon enough.

“Listen, if you ever pass this way— you know, back into Los Angeles— would you like to have a drink sometime with me? I’ll buy it this time. Not bring it with me.”

My silent protestations become vocal as I gather my belongings and start to head towards my gate.

“Well, you be safe, pretty lady with the pretty feet. God bless, and I’ll see you again.” He takes another swig of Scotch from his water bottle and smiles, winking just a tad.

“That is, if I’m meant to.”