I plopped down on the metro letting out a sigh and pulled out my book, “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.” It had been a long day of work tromping around DC. The gentleman next to me says, “I bet that’s more fun than what I’m reading.”
“What are you reading?” I inquire.
“I’m reviewing patents for the Patent Office.”
“Oh, yea? Well, this is super fun!” And I flip to the book cover and read him the title.
“Penumbra.” He says, “That’s the partial shadow of the earth on the moon during an eclipse. Umbra is the shadow of the earth that causes a lunar eclipse…well only when it’s fully covered. So penumbra must come from that.”
“Oh, really?” (I didn’t know this and quickly jog my brain for how this could be relevant to the plot – I give up, I’m clearly in to learn a lesson). He uncaps his (fountain!) pen and diagrams a lunar eclipse for me “here’s the sun, here’s the moon, here’s the earth” and tells me that many people groups a long time ago used to think “bad things” were going to happen during a lunar eclipse, when the sun hid the moon’s lights. I listen, wide-eyed and curious. He goes on to say that in common vernacular, to eclipse someone, as in professionally or in a competition means to…
“Surpass.” I offer.
He smiles, “Yes, surpass.”
I explain the premise of the book and he tells me that it reminds him of a movie he just saw about the enigma code and both of us cannot remember the main character’s name. “I’d look it up on my phone but I have no signal. Everything is research these days.” He sighs.
We can’t take the nagging of our brains and both pull out our phones to reveal “Alan Turing” as the code-breaker. At this point we arrive at our destination and he packs away his things, adjusts his hat, and slings on his backpack; he’s a sharp but practically dressed man.
He leans in to me and points at the screen of my phone, “Close all those extra windows, they slow your smart device down.”
I chuckle at the thought of getting smart phone advice from a man old enough to be my grandfather. As we part ways, he shifts his gaze up from the ground and says, “I’m Adam.”
I stop right outside the train car with pedestrian traffic racing around me, “Adam, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Sally,” I say and shake his hand.
He dawns an ear to ear grin and we part ways, I have a skip in my step for having shared a beautiful moment with a beautiful soul.