Anonymous Flat Meat

Sitting in the Southern California sun, in a parking lot, at a banquet table, having lunch with a complete stranger.

This is my life; this is normal.

The stranger is a middle age man, with a graying beard and mustache, who’s never matured past 18.  It happens to the best of us.

“My girlfriend and I have been together for almost 20 years,” he tells me with obvious pride.  He pulls out his phone and shows me a picture of a women with nice skin, no makeup, glasses, hair in a ponytail, cuddling two big dogs.

“What does she do?” I ask around a bite of anonymous flat meat and stale bread.

I can see he wanted me to ask about the dogs, but I don’t care about dogs.  I want to know about how other people make the money to pay the bills.  I know this guy doesn’t make a lot – because I don’t make a lot.  But we love our jobs.  We all complain about the long hours and the travel and strange hotel room pillows, but here we both are, mid-forties, still doing this job.  I think it is because we don’t know how to do anything else.

“She’s an accountant. Freelance, which is great because she can arrange her schedule around mine and the boys don’t have to spend a lot of time in day care.”

“Oh, you have kids?”

Chuckle, “No, but I get that all the time. My dogs are my boys.”

And now I have to spend a solid minute oohing and ahhing over a bunch of boring dog pictures before I can get another bite of my sandwich.