I’m in the elevator by myself this afternoon, and someone steps in a few floors below me on the way to the lobby. I look up from my phone to see who’s coming in, even though there’s a 99% chance I won’t know them, and they won’t know me. But it’s more reflex to see who I’ll be sharing an elevator with – prim and proper businessman or flesh eating yeti?
I continue playing with an app on my phone as he goes about his thing. Neither one of us speaks to the other or makes any gesture to start.
Now one floor from the lobby his phone rings, which immediately I think is funny, because along with the ring it also has a computerized voice saying:
INCOMING CALL. INCOMING CALL.
A ringing phone is no longer sign enough?
“I’ll get it hon” . “Whoa, whoa, whoa. We have no idea what this could be. Let’s just wait for the voice”.
Now the funnier part. The man in the elevator turns to his side, looks at me earnestly and says:
“Excuse me” – as in, I’m going to answer my phone now, which he does and launches into a conversation.
I looked at him puzzled. Had we just been in the middle of talking about a big merger? Trouble his daughter’s having at school? Our shared belief in eating oatmeal to start the day?
He was already comfortably involved in his conversation by the time I understood what his words meant.
So, he wasn’t looking for my assent. But asking for permission to break the silence?
“Excuse me Buddha master. ”
“Why do you talk now and betray your committed meditation!!!!”
“I am about to fart”.