I was descending in my building’s elevator when it stopped to allow another woman to step in. She was wearing a coat in a exaggerated camouflage pattern. When she turned to nod hello, I saw that the left sleeve, and only the left sleeve, of the coat was embroidered in wild fioratura, vines and flowers proliferating up and down the sleeve.
“What a spectacular coat!” I said. She thanked me, and we said a few more things about the coat before we reached the ground floor.
We offered warm goodbyes — warmth is what blooms even with strangers, when you compliment someone’s coat — and she moved quickly to the front doors and exited. Seemed to be in a rush, maybe late for something.
I watched her run up the steps to the sidewalk. Then I watched her run back down the steps to the front door.
“You’re back!” I said.
“Yeah,” she said, “you know I realized something. Could you do me a favor?” Well, sure I could. She turned around, her back to me, slipped her arms out of the coat so it could slide down, and said, “Could you zip me up?”
Amid mutual chuckles, I zipped up the tight black dress she was wearing under the wonderful coat, and she explained, “I couldn’t reach the zipper.”
It suddenly hit me — and I told her — I had such a dress and realized I couldn’t reach low enough to zip it, either. I’d been thinking of rigging a string through the little hole in the zipper pull and then snipping it off. “Yes!” she said, and then thanked me and ran off.
Maybe I should have asked for her phone number. I’ll be wearing that dress in June and I’m sure she’d return the favor.