It was a Friday, the warmest day of the week, the humidity rising, and I was carrying two bags full of weekend necessities: two sets of page proofs to work on, a new frying pan with which to make dinner, a bottle of wine. The temperature of the street hot enough already, I descended steps to the even-hotter environment of the subway, swiped my card, and stepped through the turnstile. My focus was near the floor, having paid close attention to not knocking my belongings (i.e. the bottle of wine) into anything as I stepped through the turnstile, and that’s when I noticed it, shining up at me where the floor meets the wall: a dime.
Ugh. Not now, I thought as I shrugged the straps of one bag higher onto my shoulder, conscious of the weight I would have to carry all the way home.
I walked past the dime and lunged up the steps to the platform, where I saw my train chugging away without me.
I started walking to the end of the platform, ready to wait an indeterminate amount of time in this oven for the next train. But with every step, the dime drilled an agonizing hole deeper into my brain. I felt compelled to go back and get it.
You’ve got time now. Discipline. I turned around and headed back to the stairs. I walked down, past people who were headed up to the platform, receiving annoyed looks, trying to control the sway of the bags over my shoulders so I didn’t hit anyone. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I met even more people. Rush hour. I stepped to the side and waited, peering through the gaps in the passing crowd, looking to see if the dime was still there. It was.
When the crowd thinned, I quickly stepped over to the wall, knelt down, and picked up the dime. Holding it in between my fingers, I ascended the steps to the platform once more, smiling this time. I was ten cents richer and oblivious to the fact that I had just missed my train seconds earlier.
Allow me to explain myself.