The envelope sits on a table just outside of a popular eatery at an upscale outdoor mall.
My immediate inclination is to be nosy and open it. But I don’t. It’s not addressed to me and besides, I’m hungry.
Instead I walk inside the resturaunt, order lunch and find a table. As luck would have it, there’s a table for two (or one, as the case was today) which sits opposite the table with the envelope on it, separated only by the wall of glass delineating the outside from the inside. I sit and wait for my soup and salad.
And I stare at that envelope.
Did the intended recipient find it and simply leave it behind? Was it a note to say that the person she was supposed to meet for lunch couldn’t make it after all? Given the fact that it was in a highly visible place, how many people would see me if I snuck a peek at what was inside?
I begin to over-think the implications of reading what was inside that envelope versus not reading it:
What if the information within that envelope has long lasting implications for its recipient and she never found it?
What if it’s a ransom note left for a mother who was supposed to meet her child there? (There is a junior high and high school just across the street.)
What if it’s a note from the woman’s husband telling her he’s leaving her for another?
Yeah, I know. I should not be left alone with my thoughts.
I even go so far as to send an email to a friend asking what he would do. He not-so-helpfully suggested that I was probably watching too many episodes of Fringe.
The multiple plots playing out in my head are abruptly interrupted by a young man carrying a backpack who walks purposely up to the table, picks up the envelope, reads the name on it, opens it and reads its contents. He then returns the note to the envelope, places it back on the table face down, sits in a chair three tables away, takes out his phone and begins texting someone.
I’m a little incensed at this point. Not only has this teenager done what my curiosity tempted me to do but my upbringing prevented me from doing, but he did so brazenly and with little thought to who might see him doing it. Clearly that envelope was not intended for him. There are many names which can apply to either gender, but Virginia isn’t one of them as far as I know.
Maybe I’m judging him too quickly. Maybe he knows Virginia and is texting her at this very moment to tell her someone has left a note for her.
Five minutes later, an SUV pulls in front of the restaurant driven by a woman I assume is the kid’s mom and drives away. So much for the thoughtful teenager theory.
And the envelope remains abandoned and alone on the table.
But not for long…
The next person to arrive is a man I judge to be in his 50’s. He glances at the overturned envelope, reaches for it but then reaches back. Instead, he sits at the table, pulls out his phone and proceeds to make a phone call. I notice he’s wearing a blue tooth device. His attention is divided between the smart phone he holds in his right hand and the overturned envelope sitting on the table he now occupies.
The man sits at the table for about ten minutes. After he completes his phone call, it doesn’t take long before curiosity overtakes courtesy. The man opens the envelope, reads it contents and quickly places back on the table just as he’d found it: face down. I presume he did so quickly so as to avoid being seen by the bicyclist who finds a place to chain up his bike right next to the table.
But that’s not how it was to begin with.
It was facing up with the recipient’s name clearly visible!
And if Virginia comes by she won’t see it!
Clearly I’m not the only one concerned with this envelope, because the man with the bicycle has taken up residence not three feet away from me and is now also looking at the envelope from the next table over.
At this point I’ve long finished my lunch and I’m nursing my Acadia berry iced tea. I need to move on and let someone else have my table.
But not before I put the envelope back to the way it was: facing up with the name turned outward.
As much as I wanted to read its contents I didn’t. It wasn’t mine to read. If Virginia read the note and chose to leave it there that’s her prerogative, but it’s not my place or anyone else’s to read something intended for someone else.
Bicycle man was watching me.