She saw the young man sitting across from her on the train flash a look of annoyance as someone brushed his knee with her bag. She wondered why he was annoyed when he was clearly mansplaining (that is the term, isn’t it?) with one leg in the aisle. She studied him more carefully and noticed that his light blue eyes had a very sad look. He was well-groomed with a neatly trimmed short beard, but the woolen gloves that held his mobile phone were frayed with holes along the edges. She looked down and saw his boots were badly scuffed and the sole on his left boot was starting to become detached.
The most obvious thing though was his woolen coat pulled tight at the buttons, so tightly in fact that she was surprised the large brown buttons didn’t start popping off. The jacket was of excellent quality, definitely not some cheap off the rack coat from Walmart, but it was at least two sizes too small. She wondered about his situation as she looked again at his sad blue eyes.
He could feel her eyes on him and he looked down at his phone to avoid returning her gaze. He couldn’t tell if this older woman was just curious about her fellow passengers or if she were somehow judging him. Even though he didn’t know her, he didn’t want her to judge him; he didn’t want anyone to judge him. He had just spent the last of his savings to cover his rent and didn’t even have enough left to pay his utilities. The local welfare office had covered his monthly transit pass so at least he could keep going to interviews. Next month he might end up sleeping on the train if something didn’t turn up.
He caught the train every morning at 7 am and made his way into the city. He was taking a job search program through a library downtown and he usually lingered after the workshop to use their internet to search for jobs and submit his resume. The location was close to most of the major corporations if a job interview was scheduled; in fact, he was averaging one to two interviews a day. He was trying hard but nothing was working out for him.
This was probably the worst year of his life. He’d moved to the city with his girlfriend and everything had been great until a few months ago when he’d lost his job. It’s funny how you really get to know someone during difficult times, isn’t it? That’s right – his girlfriend had dumped him and moved out, leaving him stuck with a lease he couldn’t afford and no job. His parents hadn’t wanted him to move so far away and they’d actually argued about it, so he wasn’t about to rush back home and eat crow, not yet anyway. He knew it might come to that though; he felt like a complete failure.
Suddenly his mobile phone rang, waking him from his introspective mood.
“Yes sir, this is Jason. I can absolutely start on the 15th. I’ll be there before 9 a.m. Yes sir, thank you for the call, I’m looking forward to joining your firm.”
The call ended and he just sat there looking at his phone. Then he looked up at the woman sitting across from him. She was smiling at him now.
He smiled back.
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