icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


The Theft

I was on my way downtown to an important meeting at American Pen when the rain started. I was on my favorite bus—the #5—which is never very crowded even at rush hour. I can always get a seat and have a good 45-50 minutes of reading.

It was just about 5 :30 when I boarded at 72nd Street and Broadway. I settled in to one of the back sideways seats and took out my Kindle. I am in the midst of a book by Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine,” and it’s hard going. I was immersed in the struggle to grasp difficult concepts. Then I needed a break and switched to Wharton’s “The House of Mirth.” I recently downloaded 21 books by Wharton for .$99. I read Wharton often in between other things. Her prose is clear and strong.

It had been raining on and off for days but now the rain started again in earnest, big, sleety rain, sheets of rain, with thunder, lightning and a high wind. The bus driver announced that the last stop would be 14th street; we’d have to catch another bus if we wanted to go further. Everyone groaned. Was the bus disabled? Was there flooding? No, the bus was ahead of schedule or behind schedule, something like that.

Everyone gathered their belongings. I closed down the Kindle, put it in a plastic bag and then into my briefcase. But where was my umbrella? I had put it right under my feet knowing I would need it as soon as I got off the bus. It had been raining for days, the humidity was 100% , and usually breaks at the end of a New York summer day.

Well, my umbrella wasn’t there. I thought, now this is really something. Did someone take it? I got up, looked all around. No, it hadn’t rolled anywhere. And then a woman across the aisle said that yes, she’d seen a man next to her eying my umbrella and he had scampered off the bus at 23rd street. “Imagine that,” I said with typical New Yorker equanimity. “He helped himself to my umbrella. I’m glad it wasn’t my wallet or my Kindle. And all because I was so immersed in READING.”

The woman laughed and told me to be more careful. We both got soaked as we slid off the bus into a drug store to wait out the storm. I took the opportunity to treat myself to a big, heavy $8 umbrella. It’s more than I usually spend but I deserved it.

Be the first to comment