I was just standing in the lobby waiting for the elevator, and a courier guy shows up. The elevator door opens, and the two of us get in.
“Floor?” I ask, pushing mine.
“Seven,” he says. “Thanks.”
I hit the 7 button, assume my spot in the back of the elevator, and take the habitual look at my iPhone as the door begins to close. Reacting to something he sees in the lobby, the courier guy lunges, sticking his tattooed arm out to hold the elevator door open. A woman steps in, stands in front of me, and watches the door close. It’s now just the three of us.
“Thank you,” she says, turning to the courier guy.
After about four seconds, the silence sinks in. That same awkward silence that makes me feel guilty for not telling a joke in an elevator full of strangers. But this time, it’s not my brain that’s doing the fidgeting. It’s the poor courier guy’s. I can feel him trying his damnedest to keep his mouth shut, to endure the ride to the Floor 7 without saying something to the woman. But he can’t do it. He fails.
“Excuse me,” he says to the woman. “You have some ink on your face.”
“It’s not ink,” she explains. “It’s Ash Wednesday.”