As we washed our hands in the restroom, a long conference day behind us, a former co-worker turned to me. “So did you take the train today?”
Yes, I replied, adding that it was a new station for me and the first time I’d taken the train into Philadelphia from our new house.
Overhearing our public restroom conversation, another woman said she was taking the same train and was going to the stop after mine. Did I happen to know how to get to the train station from where we were? I did, and she asked if I would mind waiting and showing her where to go.
Chatting as we bounded down the series of escalators, into the terminal, down a set of stairs, back up the same stairs, down another set of stairs, onto the platform and finally, onto the train, we semi-collapsed into two side-by-side seats. We talked for the entire trip, about the conference we’d just attended, about her consulting work, about the economy and the trends we were observing in our profession.
Indeed, had you been a passenger on this rail journey with us, traversing state lines and heading into the late afternoon sun, you might have thought we were longtime friends with the ease in which (at least from my perspective) we spoke. You would have heard me tell her about my wearisome four hour round trip daily commute and my futile two-year search for a new job in my new state. You would have heard her say she’d keep an eye out for opportunities, and you would have heard me thanking her and believing that she actually will do so.
And then you would have heard her present an idea to me, a thought, a scenario to consider offering my current employer, an arrangement that could, maybe, possibly work. It’s an out-of-the-box maybe for the culture of the organization I’m employed by (and I’m not sure how receptive my boss would be). But just the idea of having this as a potential option for my work situation has made my step a little lighter this evening. It’s a new way of thinking about something that I had probably gotten a little too close to. I need to give this possibility more thought – especially in terms of how I present it to my boss – but tonight, I’m grateful to my new friend for sharing her thoughts while sharing the ride.
Because as I was showing her the way back to the train station, she was actually showing me a potential new way and a new path.