The commuter train I ride to work has two levels. In the morning I generally ride on the lower level.
A woman in her early 50’s sat next to me today. She is often in the same car as me. Generally she sits up one seat with some friends of hers, where two sets of seats face each other, but her particular spot happened to be already taken.
Still, she was gabbing with her friends on the ride in, if a little more awkwardly. I had started the book Devil In The White City that morning, but got tired of reading, put away my book and just stared at nothing particular.
I was startled by a loud noise. A travel mug from the top section of the train had crashed to the floor next to our seat. As it made contact with the floor, coffee erupted out of it, spraying the woman next to me, and to a lesser extent some other women sitting nearby.
The rest of the ride was tense. Well, not for me — for the women involved. The owner of the travel mug was a woman around the same age as my seat buddy. The mug was handed up to her.
My seat buddy began wiping a napkin over her bleached blond hair repeatedly. She kept on saying, “It fell on my head.” It seemed like she was implying the mug fell on her head, which wasn’t the case. I don’t doubt that some coffee got in her hair, on her clothes, etc. I couldn’t see the degree of coffee damage done from my vantage point, but I imagine it was significant.
She wasn’t incredibly loud or obnoxious about it, but my seat buddy continued to talk about the coffee on her person. My eavesdropping isn’t so good, but I *think* she was talking about how coffee can ruin platinum. Also, she kept on glaring up at the coffee dropper as she was talking.
The coffee dropper, apparently tired of hearing about the droppee’s complaints, leaned down and said, “You’re not gonna die.”
This was fuel to the fire of my seat buddy. She repeated the coffee dropper’s words to her friends. This drew the coffee dropper back to speak again to my seat buddy. My seat buddy said, “You didn’t even say ‘sorry’. You said, ‘You’re not gonna die.'”.
The coffee dropper insisted she *had* said sorry already. I didn’t hear the coffee dropper actually say sorry, but I don’t see how she couldn’t have.
My seat buddy recounted the entire story to the conductor as he handed her the napkins, including the “You’re not gonna die” exchange. As she spoke to him he repeatedly told her to not worry about the floor (she must have been looking down at it intently, I guess) — either it would take care of itself, or he would have it cleaned up.
The conductor looked up and asked, “Was that your coffee?” The coffee dropper said, “Yes.” “Try to be more careful,” he replied. Then my seat buddy informed the conductor that after the accident the coffee dropper had returned her mug to the *same* location it had been when it had fallen down in the first place.
The conductor said that if my seat buddy had any cleaning bills for her coffee-stained clothes, please let him know about it.
I don’t know if the coffee dropper removed her mug from the place where it had previously fallen from, but the mug did not fall again.
My seat buddy continued to glare at her.
Finally, we pulled into Union Station. The coffee dropper slipped out of the train well before my seat buddy and I were able to exit. I presume no fight ensued.