MzOuiser: Excuse me - do you have the time?
Elderly Gentleman: It's just before noon.
MzOuiser: Thank you.
Elderly Gentleman: I take it your cell phone isn't working?
MzOuiser: The battery is dead, and I forgot to wear a watch.
Elderly Gentleman: You own a watch?
MzOuiser: Yeah, a few, actually!
Elderly Gentleman: I didn't think young people wore those anymore!
MzOuiser: I'm not as young as I look.
Elderly Gentleman: Neither am I, dear.
We both laugh
Elderly Gentleman: I must ask - does your watch have hands?
MzOuiser: It does. And no numbers, so it's a good thing I know how to read it. It also has a leather strap with a gold-tone buckle. It was a gift from a friend.
Elderly Gentleman: Ah. And you have to replace the battery from time to time?
MzOuiser: Yup. But I can buy a battery at radio shack and do it myself - I don't have to take it to a jeweler.
Elderly Gentleman: Good for you. I hope you have that watch a long time. It might be worth something someday.
I got up to leave, as we had arrived at my stop.
Elderly Gentleman: Nice Talking with you!
MzOuiser: My pleasure!
As I left the train, the gentleman actually tipped his hat to me.
That watch was actually a freebie from my old days at the Seagram Beverage Company. It has the Seagram logo on the face. It's quite classy looking. I was reminded of my grandparent's cheap bedroom furniture, and how I never realized how cheap it was until after they had passed away, and I got a chance to examine it critically. Grandma always kept everything polished and looking nice - even if it wasn't worth much objectively. It was a matter of pride.
I felt much the same about working for Seagram, helping to make sure Seagram's Coolers were in every licensed Wal-Mart in the country. I also remember telling someone that if more people drank coolers instead of Wild Turkey or Jack Daniels, the country might be a better place. A condemnation of sorts, not so much against the beverages themselves, but the habits of their target market.
Thinking about the habits of the urban cell phone user, I realized I was proud to be identified as a watch wearer. I felt a bit smug, walking to my appointment that day.
There have been times I felt that I was born several decades too late. I love the graciousness associated with a slower time, when writing letters was considered an art, when personal visits involved conversation and a pot of coffee. When musicians had to play instruments that differed little from the ones their grandfathers used, and singers had to really, really sing. And I've always gotten a kick out of hats and gloves.
For a few minutes, I felt that I'd gotten a breeze of that way of life, taking a local train uptown with plenty of time to make my appointment, talking with pride about knowing how to read an analog watch. Having a gentleman speak sincerely to my face, and tip his hat.
Just a few minutes can make your whole day.