Thank goodness it had been a slow night on the drawbridge. Very few vessels had come up to ask for a bridge opening. My coworker was sitting alone in the tower with the lights out to maintain his night vision. He was enjoying the peace and quiet and a nice cup of tea.
He happened to look up and noticed a man carrying a package. He thought nothing of it. The sidewalk is public property after all.
But then the man stopped at the center of the span. Still on the sidewalk, he put his package down right on the crack that rises and widens when a bridge opening is in progress. As there were no tall vessels on the horizon, again, my coworker didn’t make too much of it. But he did get curious, and continued to watch.
The man dropped to his knees and began carefully opening the package. My coworker recognized the IKEA label on the box. Fascinating.
As with all things IKEA, some assembly was required. The man began reading instructions, and identifying various pieces and parts. He then set about putting together his project.
The man was taking this all very seriously. Clearly he wanted the item to be just right. When he was done, what stood before him was a tall and, according to my coworker, quite nice floor lamp.
The man centered the lamp on the sidewalk, gathered up all the packaging, and walked away. He never gave the abandoned lamp a backward glance. Apparently he had accomplished his mission.
My coworker was both bemused and confused. He sat alone and looked out the window at the lamp for a while. But he couldn’t just leave it there. It was in a precarious place if a sailboat were to approach. During the next lift, the lamp would either fall on the boat as it crossed under, or it would fall down the increasingly sloping sidewalk, possibly hitting a pedestrian. So he went down and carried the lamp off the moveable part of the span.
He left it in a visible place, hoping the man would come back and retrieve it. But it sat there for hours, alone and neglected. And it really was a nice lamp.
So, late that night, at the end of his shift, my coworker took the lamp home. It still sits in his living room to this day. Sometimes, as he sits beside it, he’ll take a break from his reading to think about the man whom he never formally met. He remembers how he was entertained by him for a time on a quiet, lonely night on the bridge and how, because of that, they will always be connected.
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