The boss went first, and then the giant, who fished into his pants pocket and turned and thrust something into her hand, something that field like folded up paper.
"Those things are mostly disgusting," he said, leaning over to say it quietly toward her ear. "Try to not think about it when it's happening."
She knew it was a toilet-seat cover which instantly made her relieved.
"Thanks," she whispered. "You're a life saver."
"Nah," said the giant, and turned back and collapsed into the window section of a three-seater. He grinned at her.
She moved along quickly to follow the boss, already making his way up the stairs. She caught up to him as he was taking a forward-facing seat.
"You don't know me but I am not a perfect man," he said as she seated herself facing him but backwards in the direction of travel. "I can put up with a lot but if I face backwards, I will barf."
"It's not a big deal," she said told him. "I can ride backwards, forwards, and sideways and I will be fine." She paused and added, "But if I'm riding in a car and I open a magazine for even two seconds, I will instantly get a headache and be sick for the rest of the day."
"Interesting," said the boss. "Since always?"
"Yeah, pretty much. And if I am on some sort of transportation like a bus and I can't see out the window, I will instantly get a headache and be sick for the rest of the day," she said.
"Geez, so if you're on a tour bus, let's say, and the windows get foggy?"
"I start wiping like a freak so I don't get sick. People think I'm mental but I don't care," she said. "We're all mostly mental."
"Yeah," said the boss. "We are mostly mental. People are pretty nice but everyone has a touch of the insane."
"People are pretty nice," she said.
"He gave you a toilet seat cover, didn't he?" he asked.
She blushed. This was a sharp guy and of course he noticed things.
"Yes," she said flatly.
"I gave him a box of those last year at Christmas. It was a big kit of emergency travel stuff -- toilet seat covers, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, a folding brush, a comb, a few mini hand sanitizers --unscented for dudes -- and some little bottles to carry whatever. Something to go with the main client Christmas present I gave him."
"Which was?" she asked him.
"Fifty-two deluxe car washes at his favorite auto appearance center," he advised. "The man gets his car washed twice a week so once it's on him and once it's on me." He paused. "He probably washes it at home in his driveway once or twice a week, too, except in winter. Then he only vacuums." Another pause. "When do you wash your car?"
"When I notice it's dirty. If I don't notice then I don't think about it," she said.
"Your car must be silver or light gray," he asked.
"Yep," she said. "You just don't much notice." A pause and then, "How did you know I have a car?"
He grinned at her.
"You seem like you would. A sensible car," he said.
"My one friend told me I get boring cars. She says boring but they're reliable. I like sensible. I enjoy dependable," she said somewhat defensively.
"It's great," said the boss, adding, "You know you'll have a company car, right?"
Her jaw actually dropped.
"How would I know that?" she said.
"Oh, yeah, you wouldn't," he replied with a grin.
The train gently started moving from the station and the conductor came quickly through the top deck, punching tickets as he went.
"Say, don't you work in the train station?" he asked her.
Her jaw dropped again, tucking the ticket into an outside pocket of her purse.
"I've seen you in the morning, going to work. But not today," he said before she could answer. "You didn't go to work today."
"Uh, no," she said. "I called in." She looked at his face but could not recall having ever seen it.
"I've seen you in the morning," he told her.
He punched the ticket of her boss, handed it back to him, and moved on to the next person.
"See," said the boss. "People notice you."
She tried to grin but was a bit embarrassed. She liked to look at people and notice them but she had honestly never looked at the faces of the conductors and engineers who congregated together at this one part of the food court. They always sat facing forward, looking at everyone coming and going but she never met their gazes. In fact, she'd made a concerted effort to not look at their faces and she didn't know why this was. She looked at every other face but never at the trainmen.
"I think I'm going to go use the restroom," she said, holding on to stand up so she didn't go plunging over the rail onto the floor below. She was about to move when she heard something that made her blood go cold. She could not decided exactly what it was but she must have blanched because her boss spoke up.
"Yeah, I warned you about the snoring but you just didn't believe me," he said.
Her eyes grew wide like saucers and she soundlessly mouthed, "Wow," then turned and slowly made her way down the stairs to the restroom.
Afterward, all she remembered about the place was that everything was stainless steel -- the sink, the toilet, the walls and floor. She took the giant's advice and didn't think about it. She recalled using the mysterious powdered soap which barely dissolved with the ice cold water. She then gingerly picked hand sanitizer from her purse and used it liberally. She opened the door and closed it behind her and sanitized again and holding on to all railings, she made her way back up the stairs to her seat, where she again sanititzed.
"You smell like an explosion at the lemon foundry," said the boss, referencing her excessive use of her lemony sanitizer.
"It'll dissipate," she told him.
"And until then we all have to be glad it's lemon and not a thousand roses," he said.
"What's a lemon foundry?" she asked.
"You, obviously," he said with a smirk. "Can I please have a squirt? I want to get some of the rail gross off."
He reached one hand across and she turned the bottle upside down and gave it a squeeze. It made a farting sound as it came out.
"Gezundheit," said the boss.