At 3a, when we returned, not ten minutes had passed when we heard the elevator lifting. Thinking the building was empty we both turned and faced each other with looks of anticipation and turned our attention back to the door as it slid open and a tired gentleman wandered out and looked taken aback with surprise. We started out apologizing and pointed at the rain outside, trying to explain – sadly in English – that we were in here temporarily to escape the rain. He shook his head and mumbled, “No, no, no,” looking exasperated.
We did not want to cause him any trouble, so we packed up and headed downstairs. I felt relief that he did not try to hold us and call the cops. Harmless though we are, I would not blame him for being frightened. One can never guess what squatters are up to, and even those that look harmless may damage, steal, or leave a mess behind.
The downpour outside was no real cause for alarm as across the street we found a deep and dark covered entrance of a parking garage. It was much cooler to be outside and the sound of the rain was soothing. Neither of us was none too tired, so I settled in to write while Sandy hopped from one awning to the next in the rain, looking for an outlet to charge our phones. Finding none he came back.
Minutes later, we stared in astonishment when we saw the man that had just shooed us out of the building, exit the building and wave, beckoning us to return inside. We felt bad for disturbing him earlier and and shook our hands in a gesture that meant “Thanks, but no need.” He insisted, not leaving the doorway till we got up and headed his way.
It didn’t feel creepy; there was only kindness. He seemed to have changed his mind about the young adults he had found crashing in his building. Maybe he thought we were homeless. He directed us back to our spot on the 8th floor and we thanked him profusely as we settled in and plugged our electronics to charge. He ascended to the floor above, and it was then that we knew he must be the superintendent of the building.
10 minutes later he descended and asked us to join him in his small room upstairs. He did not speak much English, but enough to ask if we were married. Assuringly, I could truthfully answer yes, as we followed him up the steps into his office.
“A very small room,” he cautioned, trying not to allow our expectations to be diminished. It was a fairly tidy room and here we said hello and goodbye to another man who been visiting – a coworker? a friend? I do not know. He was equally taken aback, but introduced himself and shook our hands.
“Are you hungry? Have you eaten dinner?” he asked, rubbing his belly to give us further indication as to what he meant. Overwhelmed by his generosity, and not wanting to further trouble him, I replied, “No. We are great.”