The Woman in the Scarf Signals a Bad Day


scarfEvery morning I see the woman in a scarf. It’s either black or red; and once it was a tan scarf that looked like one I’d had as a kid that was unthreaded to death by a washing machine when I was 12.

Other than the scarf, the smoking woman dresses sort of like she’s about to take part in an equestrian show. She wears tall black boots, tight trousers, and a tan field jacket. She is always smoking a cigarette.

The woman in the scarf is my morning time gauge.

We pass each other three mornings a week, always somewhere between 7:15 and 7:20, when she is on her way from the metro to her office in the buildings near my flat and I am on the way to the metro to get across Prague. I have no idea where her commute starts, all I know is that I see her every morning. And depending on where I see her, I am either on time or very late.

There really is no in between. I am never late and I am never early. It is the by-product of being an obsessive son of a bitch. The latest I ever am is between fifteen and twenty minutes early for work, which is just about on time. Any closer to H Hour of a class equals late, and throws my day into a descending stairway of grumpiness.

But today, I am running late, meaning I’ll hopefully get to work ten minutes early. Maybe five minutes early. But this is barring any holdups on the way and holdups are a thing that permanently roost, make love, and multiply in the mind of an obsessive SOB. Just as they are today.

I don’t know why I am late today. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s dark. Always dark. I have been getting up at 5 am for a few weeks to get my writing in before work, but today it just didn’t happen. Even after I woke up and I simply had to get up and put water on my body before putting on clothing, I still didn’t move. I just lie there asking the lizard people who run our Matrix to let me stay in bed. But I got no answer, so I got up and put water on my body and coffee in my body and then I left. I’ll have to eat my grapefruit in between classes.

I pass the woman in the scarf just near my corner, when she is already finished with her cigarette. Even she eyes me in a way that asked what I am doing all the way back here and then she checks her watch. We obsessive SOBs know one another. I shuffle forward in hurry.

The rest of the day will be completely thrown off now. I usually spend my tram time reading and my walking time making mental tweaks to lesson plans. But today all I can do is worry that I might be late, so on the tram I alternate my gaze between Lucky Jim and the clock at the front of the tram. I wonder if the woman in the scarf’s day will be any better.

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