Last night, I was driving little ole Alpha (Chicago Water Taxi) up and down the Chicago river. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing particularly special about the day (other than the incredible weather we’ve been having!) There was a gentle breeze coming from the southeast, and our day was almost at an end.
As I was coming around the bend at Wolff’s Point, I noticed a man talking to a lady on the Wells St. Bridge. He was holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Naturally, being the nosy people-watcher that I am, I stepped slightly out of the wheelhouse to see more clearly. I thought he was going to propose and I wanted in on the spectacle. I slowed down a bit (still going about 800 rpms, roughly 1 knot) down the river.
The gentleman and the lady parted. What?
As I was looking up, we made eye contact. I grabbed the bull-horn behind my seat and promptly gave him a siren-ed beep beep. He looked down again. I didn’t think he was going to do it. Lo and behold, he gently tosses the bouquet, stems down, and they land with a perfect fit into the crook of my right arm! I am a little embarrassed to say that no one was driving the boat at this point (don’t worry, I was still in full control haha). It was a perfect 30-foot decent into my arms.
My passengers applauded me. I couldn’t help but make a little theatre out of the whole event. I took a bow, then showed them the arrangement: a beautiful fall scheme with burnt oranges, crimson reds, and deep purples, all wrapped in burlap. That interaction had just made my day–no–my week!
As we kept on our course to the dock, I couldn’t help but wonder about the man we had left on the bridge, flowerless and alone. What was his name? Why had he bought such exquisite flowers? Who were they intended for? What compelled him to throw them off the bridge and into my arms?
These are questions I will never get answers to most likely. But that doesn’t make it any less profound. That man gave a little piece of himself to a stranger. And even if his motivation was grief, his sharing of creation with someone outside his immediate sphere, made that grief bearable for one moment of time.
I would have loved to have seen his face as he watched me catch them from above. What a moment. What a memory.
I searched the “missed connections” page on Chicago’s Craigslist this morning just out of shear curiosity. Nothing there. No future interactions with the flower-bridge-man. But I wish him well on his journey through life. I hope that someday another woman can appreciate his flowers as much as I did.