It's almost an afterthought. He's got everything he needs. He doesn't have to butter me up or be friendly to get his transfer anymore. No, he's just curious, seeing me as a fellow young person, working on this project called life, and he's inquiring out of nothing more or less than genuine human interest.
"It's goin' GREAT! Thanks for askin'!"
"Haha," he says, sharing in the glow of my enthusiasm. "Keep it up." He offers a fistpound. "Yeeeeah," he adds, almost to himself, walking off happier than he was before.
Later, at Rainier and Bayview:
"How you doin' tonight?" I ask this newcomer, a man in his early twenties.
Excellent word choice, I'm thinking. "Oh, wow! That's great!"
"I just got a delicious subway sandwich–" holding up the goods– "from a lovely young Mexican lady who works at the Subway over there. And I got my coffee,"
"What could be better?"
"I know, RIGHT?"
His enthusiasm is infectious. What could be better, indeed. "That sounds fantastic."
"I don't get to speak Spanish very often, but when I do, and when it's with a lady as lovely as that girl over there, well, it feels PRETTY GOOD."
"But she asked me if I go to church, as many of them will do, and,"
"Had to tell her the truth,"
"I had to tell her that I don't,"
"Gotta tell the truth,"
"That's good of you."
"It is what it is."
"But you know, I'm sure you made her night better,"
"Yeah, I told her she was very beautiful and she blushed and smiled, so what more could I ask for?"
"What more could you ask for!" We say the phrase practically in unison. "Exactly!"
Just that glimmer of connection, of the acknowledgement that we're all in this together, and we appreciate each other. It's enough to keep anyone going.