As you may or may not know, we are residing at the Holiday Inn until we can move into our new house this weekend. This place feels like home, though, because we’ve gotten to know all the waiters, waitresses and desk clerks by name. They say good morning to us. And good evening. Our favorite breakfast server is now in the habit of saying, “have a great day at school, David.”
But this morning, my Holiday Inn routine was interrupted by a newcomer. Sure, there are newcomers here every day. Heck, we were newcomers 10 days ago and then we flew to Panama and came back again. We are our own newcomers!
But today’s brandnewcomer may stick with me for a while.
There he was at the booth next to ours. There he sat as his eggs and coffee arrived. There he looked into space.
Who was that man, with a plain downturned face, dressed to fly planes?
I will remember him always as the Sad Captain. Even his big blonde fu-manchu mustache reeked of angst.
Why was he sad? Is he tired of a blurred life where destinations are meaningless? What impact does the business of in-between-ness have on a person? Chronic despair?
Then I remembered a hilarious moment with my psychiatrist a year or so ago. I was telling her that someone in my life seemed sad to me. I went on and on about this sadness in her. I explained my observations of this sadness in great detail.
Finally, I asked my doctor, “Do you think she’s sad?”
“Nancy,” my doctor responded. “I think you are sad.”
I laughed out loud. Nothing is funnier than projected sadness. I laughed for a long long time. My doc laughed too.
But now, without medical help, I have to wonder why I thought the captain was sad. Am I sad because I’m back from a trip? Living in the Holiday Inn with no plane in sight? Or, maybe because, I’m chronically unsettled wherever I am?
Nope. I’m not buying it.
In fact, I’d bet my last few vending-machine quarters that it was the captain who was sad. And, to be honest, I’m not happy about it.