Yes, Things Do Get Better

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s a little story to restore your faith in humanity.

I just accidentally left a book — a signed first edition, no less — in a busy public space in a major metropolitan area for over an hour, and when I came back, it was still there, apparently untouched.

I’m in Boston for work right now, and went down to the North End for dinner and (mostly) dessert.  So I took my chicken parm sub and tiramisu in a cup from Bova’s Bakery to this really nice park on the edge of the neighborhood.  As I ate, and called Jaime to gloat,  I set my book down on the edge of my chair.  And then I packed up the uneaten half of my sub and walked back to catch the shuttle from North Station.  (I think I forgot the book because I hadn’t been carrying anything else before getting food, and then I had this bag, and I didn’t notice any weight missing.)

The book, by the way, is David Eagleman’s Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives.  It means a lot to me because I got it on a trip to see our friend Spiff in Seattle.  (I brought it with me because it’s small, and short, and seemed appropriate after The Pale King.)  And yet I didn’t notice until I was at my stop that I’d forgotten it. After a brief internal debate (why bother? it’s surely gone already) I decided I had to go back and at least see if it might be there.  So I turned right back around to go back to the North End.

And there it was, exactly where I left it.  I know at least some people saw it, because I’d been sitting next to an empty chair, and now that chair had been moved elsewhere.

This brings a few thoughts to mind:

1) This may mean that Bova’s tiramisu-in-a-cup really is magic.  As in nothing bad can happen to you for two hours after eating it.

2) Or is this another indication that people don’t care about books anymore?  In the morning I saw one of the sidewalk booksellers in Harvard Square and wondered how many $2 books he could possibly hope to sell that day; in the evening I left a legitimately collectible book in perfect condition in view of hundreds (if not thousands) of people in broad daylight, and not one picked it up.

3) I love public transportation.  The luckiest stroke here was that the Green Line’s under construction from Lechmere to North Station, so they’re running shuttle buses (for free).  Since it was free, and I didn’t have to wait at all, just walk onto the next shuttle going back to the North End, it was easy to go back after the book.

4) Boston has proved itself, once again, my good luck charm.   Beautiful day, 80 degrees, no humidity, a perfect sunset as I walked back to the bus with my miracle book in hand.

So thank you, people of Boston, for protecting and returning my book to me.  It’ll always remind me of you, now, as well as Seattle.  And it’s proof that everyone’s luck has to turn around eventually.

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