The Bag

The bag is black, nondescript, its handle extended in the way I’ve seen with commuter bags on the Metro.  In all aspects it is unremarkable save for one—it is unattended.

I started eavesdropping as I was without book or headphones.  This is how I first hear about the bag.

It is a group of young men, all possibly heading home after a night out.  They’re all well mannered, not too loud, but all discussing what to do about the bag.  What’s the protocol?  Is it like finding an unattended child in a restroom?  What do you do?  There is a lot of laughter that slowly transitions to disquiet when they realize, three stops later, that the bag is truly unattended.

I can’t see the bag from where I am sitting.  I wonder how long it has been on the train and whether or not I should get on the intercom.

A Metro employee boards the train and they tell him that it’s an unattended bag.  He tells them that he will take care of it.

At the next stop, I get up along with a dozen other people.  As we approach the door and the bag, he stops me and asks if the bag is mine.

“No.”  I say, as flat and as long as I can without it sounding like two syllables.  There is a pause as he looks me over.  There is an unspoken approval and I get off the train and on to the platform.

He asks no one else as we disembark from the train.

“Sure,” I say to no one in particular.  “Ask the one brown guy in the train.”

“Well,” a voice behind me answers.  “It was either you,” she pulls down her scarf, and behind it, I see a young middle eastern woman.  “Or me.”

And we laugh.