Sarah and I ordered a pizza this weekend and I went downstairs to the lobby of our place to wait for the Dominos guy to arrive. I was sitting on the bench in the little vestibule where you swipe your passkey to gain entrance to the building when a car pulled up. I got excited, as pizza still makes me happy.
It wasn’t the pizza guy, though. It was a woman getting dropped off. She was a large, heavyset black woman who looked like she could be Precious’ older, more-miserable sister. I said hello and she grunted in response.
I hoped she wouldn’t ask me to let her in the building. That’s always such an awkward situation: Someone you don’t know asks you to let them in the building. I don’t want to be a jerk and say no but at the same time, that’s also sort of the idea behind having a locked door.
Then she said something to me I couldn’t understand. Not that I couldn’t fathom why she would say such a thing to me, but I literally couldn’t understand the words she was saying. It was like her cheeks had gotten so fat she had given up trying to enunciate words and just blew air out of her mouth and sort of moved her lips to not-really form the words.
“Pardon?” I said.
“C’n I sit next toyoo?”
“Sure,” I said, scooting over as I wondered how much weight the little bench could hold. She plopped down and I felt the wooden slats of the seat nearly give. I smiled and played with my phone.
“D’you live here?” she asked me.
“Yep. I like it, it’s nice and quiet,” I answered. She said nothing. She just kind of sat and stared at the wall across from us. Was she going to go in? Why hadn’t she buzzed anyone on the intercom to let her in? Was she going to wait until I got up and went in and try to sneak in while the door is open? Or, even worse, was she going to take my pizza from me?
I decided to try to break the silence. “Do you live here?”
“Do you live here? Visiting friends or family?”
“No, I don’t live here.”
And then she pulled a bag of McDonald’s out of thin air and begin to eat. She was a mouth breather, and the more she ate, the heavier her breathing got, until soon the lobby was filled with the sounds of her breathing mixed with the sounds of her eating. And she was not a quiet eater. It sounded like a plastic bag filled with Jell-O was being torn apart by a rabid raccoon.
Almost as quickly as it had started, the feeding frenzy was over and she stood up with a simple, “OK.” Then she pulled a passkey out of a pocket, swiped it across the sensor, and walked into the building.
What just happened? Who was this lady? If she didn’t live here, why did she have a key? And if she had a key, why did she eat her food in the lobby in the middle of winter? Was she not allowed to eat McDonalds? Were there people upstairs she didn’t want to share her McDonalds with?
What did I just witness?