"This is my 3rd day on the job!" She exclaimed and giggled. He smiled and noted that he was no veteran at the agency himself. But he was permanent staff, while she was a one-year fellow at one of the divisions.
"I only arrived in America last Sunday," she shrugged.
"From where?" He asked.
"Beirut," she said, and added. "Lebanon."
"No wonder I had never seen you on the bus before."
She was about 30, tall, pretty, and very slim. Her face was Kabuki-white --- either she hardly ever saw the sun or had put on an inch of make-up, or both. The bright red on her lips was on the verge of bleeding into the pastiness of her complexion Her expensively-layered shoulder-length hair was brown with a red tint.
"What will you be working on?" He asked.
"For this project at DSI," she answered. "I'm a clinical pharmacist -- that's my specialty, clinical pharmacy." She emphasized the "clinical" a couple of times. She had a soft, exotic accent, slightly French but not quite. "I'm the only clinical expert on the team."
"Wow," he sighed enthusiastically.
She gave a long explanation about her educational history. She received her undergraduate degree at a pharmacy school in Boston, then went back to Lebanon and practiced pharmacy while getting a doctor of pharmacy degree with an extra year and a half at the American University in Beirut. He was entirely ignorant of the peculiarities of pharmacy education and practice, and she explained patiently how she had worked at a hospital, practicing the most advanced clinical pharmacy service for 2 years.
"That sounds so exciting," he marveled. "Was it hard to give up?"
"Oh, I didn't give it up," she giggled again. "I'm only on sabbatical for a year. I applied for this fellowship and was accepted in August. After this year I'll go back to my clinical pharmacy at the university."
Even in the shade inside the bus, she had a pair of gigantic sunglasses on --- typical 1980s' style and all the rage in 2010.
"So, what do you do at the agency?" She asked after a brief pause. The bus was bumping along in the afternoon rush hour.
"I'm a project manager for the personnel department," he replied. "I'm in Building 1, so it's easy for me to pop out the door and catch the bus."
The bus stops right outside Building 1. If you happened to be working in a building across the campus, it could take 10 minutes to get there.
"So where are you from?" She asked.
"Originally?" He asked with a hint of surprise as never had anyone asked him this question.
"Um ... I guess."
She looked puzzled. He felt a little thrill shooting up his spine. "Where is ... Neb, Neb ...?" She asked.
"It's right in the middle of the country," he said. "There is mostly agriculture --- corn and cows," he laughed. "I went to college in Wyoming, then went into the army. I flew helicopters and stuff." After a pause he continued, "Then I hurt my back and left the army. I worked for a few years in Virginia for a couple of consulting firms that had a lot of government contracts."
She gazed at him with curiosity. He was a little over 40, medium built and height -- which made him half a head taller than she -- and still had a military air. Light brown hair brown eyes. The most distinguishing feature about him was a Cyrano de Bergerac nose. He was wearing a navy blue suit and red-and-blue tie.
"Where do you live now?" He asked.
"In Dupont ..." She searched for the name of the neighborhood.
"Dupont Circle? That's a very popular area," he said. "It's in the heart of DC."
"Yes, I'm a city person," she chirped. "When I first came here before I thought about living in Silver Spring. It seems like a busy place, but at night it is completely empty. There is no one around. So I said no way and found an apartment in Dupont. It's very lively. At night I can walk around the corner and get a cup of coffee or go to the bookstore if I want."
"There is a bookstore there ... What's it called? Oh, I can't remember ..." He tapped a finger on his knee.
"Kramer's?" She offered helpfully. He opened both hands palm up and shrugged. When was the last time he went in town? He could not even remember.
"Yes, I think so," he mumbled. "How quaint."
"Quaint?" She turned over the word in her mouth. "Hmm, I've learned a new word today. What does it mean?"
He was stumped. He hummed and hawed for a while and came up with a few incoherent explanations. She happily accepted them without any further comments.
"So where do you live?" She turned to another subject.
"Falls Church," he named a suburb of DC. "It's in Virginia."
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