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Monday, February 14, 2011

requiem - a love story

It's February 1984, time for her to go back to work. The firm that she freelances for is putting her in charge as supervisor of the team that will head the last face to face shareholder counter for American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Ma Bell. The government has ordered the break up of the company and she and the team would assist stockholders in filling out the forms for their choices of which of the new companies they would want to own.

A counter was built in the lobby of the AT&T building on Broadway, in downtown New York City's financial district, the marble columns and marble flooring adding to the cold winter chill that entered the lobby everytime someone opened the door. It was a fitting requiem, cold and sombre, Ma Bell was dead and all the mourners would flock to the funeral.

"Perfect", she thought, she had just spent the last two months at home crying, mourning the loss of her love of seven years, his death although not unexpected, was a blow, they were soul mates, sympatico, partners, mates, friends. The eighteen year age difference surprised them and disappeared the moment they met.

And here she was still grieving but she had to work, the little money she had saved was gone.

The shareholders were arriving, with their sad forlorn faces, older seniors who had owned the company since their youth. They did not understand what was happening, they did not want to let go of their AT&T stock, they did not know how to choose. They did not want to get mail from all the new companies, they only wanted one.

There was snow outside and wind, it is always windy downtown near the water, the wind will bring another chill into the lobby, heaters are brought and placed around the counters, the team is supposed to remove their coats but it is so cold, some of the women even want to keep their gloves on.

There is a man pacing, a distance away from the counter, her keeps walking back and forth. The team notices him, he is wearing a cowboy hat and boots with a suede leather jacket with fringe on the sleeves. Finally he approaches the counter in front of one of the women, a sweet young red head. She reminds him of his girlfriend, who was a telephone operator who had died before they were married, he gave the redhead a small bottle of perfume, she helped him fill out the papers to make the changes to the stock he owned.

Couples came together, husbands and wives holding hands, confused and forlorn. Rich people walked in and over to the counter, wealthy people, average people, short people. There was even a man who had a folder filled with cancelled certificates of AT& T stock which was strange, those certificated should have been destroyed when they were cancelled, security was called and the man with the cancelled certificates was escorted away to speak with someone about how he came to have the cancelled certificates.

A rather tall slim gentleman in a suit walked to the window in front of the supervisor. His light grey eyes looked into her sad brown eyes. " I was in Buchenwald, the concentration camp", he said, "there were ten thousand people there. And from those ten thousand people, they chose two hundred, and from those two hundred they chose twenty people, and I was one of the twenty." She understood, he was mourning nine thousand nine hundred eighty people and he too came to the funeral of Ma Bell and had presented the supervisor with a gift. This man for more than forty years, one of the 'lucky ones' to have survived Buchenwald and he was here today giving her a gift. He didn't say anything else. He left her to her thoughts. 

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