I live in a 1920s-era building (read: no central air conditioning), so in order for Reggie and I to stay cool and sane in the summer months, I install an air conditioner in my window. These units are as common in NYC windows as rats on the subway tracks. But air conditioners don’t always stay in windows. They are awkward, heavy things. Trying to hoist one into an open window while balancing it with one hand and securing it into the frame with the other requires the dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat and the brute strength of an Olympic weightlifter.
Last year just as I was closing the window on top of the unit for stability, the air conditioner started teetering this way and that. In a split second, my body reacted without thinking. I grabbed the air conditioner as quickly as I could and my little pinky finger got caught in the vent holes. I saved it from crashing four flights to the sidewalk below and my finger, while black-and-blue, made it out intact, but I had had enough. It was time to get one of those portable air conditioners on wheels.
I decided to sell the old air conditioner. There was probably someone in the neighborhood who had one of those sleeves built into the wall and didn’t need to worry about things like ballast. I posted an ad and received a quick response from a guy who lived just a few blocks away. We arranged for him to come by the next day. When I opened the door, I was completely caught off guard. Standing before me was a very familiar face, but he didn’t seem to recognize me. He was well over six feet tall with brown hair and eyes. He had a kind of lumbering, almost sorrowful gait to his walk.
“I feel like I know you,” I said, by way of apologizing for staring at him for so long. Did he think I was trying a pick-up line?
He looked at me. “No, sorry.”
In a city of eight million people you’re bound to run into a doppelgänger or two along the way, so I let it drop. He effortlessly picked up the air conditioner seeming to balance it on one finger like a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. As an afterthought, he said, “Well, maybe you’re thinking of my twin brother Aaron.”
Yes! That was it! I had worked with Aaron about ten years ago, before he left the company to pursue greener pastures. Without the daily interaction at the water cooler, we’d lost touch. I have no clue what’s going on in his life. Where is he working now? Is he married? With children? Does he live in the city or did he move to the ‘burbs? I hadn’t even thought about him in years.
I don’t know the odds that the identical twin brother of a guy I worked with a decade ago would respond to an ad I placed for an air conditioner, but it seems they would be rather slim. As soon as he left I ran down to the corner store to buy a lottery ticket.
Have you ever run into someone from your past in an unexpected way? Did it prompt you to do something different or did you see it as a coincidence?
Have a great weekend, everyone!