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File under Famous Mis-cues

In the Chicago Public Library, where I spent much time on layover in my old Greyhound Bus Driver days, there is a wing devoted to foreign languages. In an alcove of this wing the stacks lead one to overlook a small courtyard atrium, open to the air, and hidden in the depths of the building from the outside world. It is roughly a space of no more than 20 ft on a side. One can see various other windows of the library, vine-covered walls, a decorative tree or two, a small fountain, and benignly, in the midst of this, the statue of a smiling Bhudda with its eyes closed. The day I discovered the courtyard it was overcast and, though no direct sun illuminated the scene, every detail was crisp and clearly visible. From one wall a door stood open, through which a janitor had entered the courtyard, placed a wooden chair, and sat, his mop leaning across his chest. He sat facing the fountain and its Bhudda, and dozed. The janitor was black, and a big fellow in painter-like work clothes, with a prominent round belly. Interior light shone through the open door, bathing the Bhudda and the janitor in a soft glow as they faced one another, eyes closed.

At first I was in a rapture of watching. Then, with acute remorse, I noted I had not brought my camera along. "A Pulitzer no one will ever see!" I lamented. The urge to share the scene with someone, somehow, overcame me and I whispered down the isle to a man just out of view of the window and the scene below-- "Psst, come here, come here, I want to show you something wonderful."

The man turned red, and raising himself up he said furiously: "Absolutely Not!" Then he rushed off in the opposite direction. That reaction was just as wonderful as the scene outside, so I sat down, closed my eyes, and smiled.


Cydonia photo: ESA

This is the journal of David Ross
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