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The forecast is calling for rain on and off today. So I stop at the car on my way out of the office to grab my umbrella. I’m going to walk a couple of blocks for soup. I make it all the way to the restaurant without having to open it. I head straight to the back, place my order to go, and walk back toward the front to sit at the counter facing the street. I like to watch my fellow lunch seekers pass by as I wait. By now, umbrellas are in use for those carrying them. Everyone else is dodging rain drops, though it’s not raining all that hard.

After a few minutes of nothing much to watch, my soup is handed to me in a plain brown paper bag. I can tell they’ve included a couple pieces of homemade focaccia bread. So I head out to eat my lunch back by my computer. I realize after a few steps that it’s not just the rain that’s picked up, it’s a bit windier then before I had soup in my possession. I’m walking back, trying to keep my umbrella from catching gusts when we both see each other on opposite sides of the street. It’s the father of one of the boys William played baseball with this summer. I knew he worked around the corner from me but hadn’t ever bumped into him. As I cross the street, the wind catches my umbrella and blows it inside out. We both laugh, duck under an awning and begin to catch up while I reverse my umbrella. We make loose plans to grab lunch sometime and head off in opposite directions.

So, he’s not with me 7 steps later when the bottom of that plain brown paper bag gives way. The entire quart of chicken soup plummets 3 feet to the sidewalk. There, it shatters, spilling onto my right foot, which is already a little wet. But now it’s wet, really hot, with strings of chicken all over. It looks like a kid just blew chunks on my shoe. I do what everyone does when this happens, look around to see if anyone saw. It doesn’t seem that anyone did, though I’m not sure what difference this makes. For a moment I’m frozen. I really wanted that soup. Do I go back for more? Do I keep on back to the office and get something from one of the restaurants in our building? Do I stay here a little longer and feel sorry for myself? It’s still raining and it’s still windy. I decide to pick up what I can and carry it a block until I find a garbage receptacle on my way back for another quart. I’m already wet. And the chances of me getting more chicken on my foot have got to be narrow.

They are surprised to see me back so soon. But they don’t hesitate to get me another quart. This time they put that plain brown paper bag inside of a plain black plastic bag. They even throw in a couple of those pieces of bread again. And they won’t let me pay for any of it.

A little more about Erik Eustice...