That Time I Blew off Timothy Geithner

2 Jul


Monday night and I was on my way home from work. I decided to take the scenic route to the Subway and walk a few extra blocks. I normally get on the Subway at 28th street but on this night I would walk north and get the 4 or 5 train at Grand Central instead. Sitting at a computer and in an office all day can make your body crave movement.

As I waited for the 4 or 5 train to arrive, a man approached me with a question. I was reading Jonah Keri’s latest on Grantland, which I pre-loaded on my phone so that I could read it while on the Wifi-less subway. The man wanted to know what stop the 4 train goes to after 59th street. He was thin and wore a tailored suit. There was a blond woman with him. He had a face that looked familiar, too, though I barely looked up from my Android phone to answer him.

“I’m not really sure exactly where,” I said, and this wasn’t a lie. I knew I had to get to east 86th street, and I knew this train would get me somewhere close to there. Whichever stop wound up being the closest would be the one I used. Of course, I didn’t say any of this to him. I think I mostly just grunted my answer and barely raised my eyes

The man asked the person standing to my right, another man who looked to be in his late 20s. He had a full brown beard and was a bit stocky. He was also wearing a baseball cap and shorts, and was also much more helpful, and polite than I.

“To 86th street,” he said, and that, apparently, was not the answer the man wanted to hear. He, and the woman, walked to the opposite end of the platform and waited for the local 6 train to arrive. A few moments later they were gone.

“Didn’t that guy look a lot like Timothy Geithner?” said the 20-something with the full beard.

That’s when it hit me—yes, it certainly did look like Timothy Geithner, the former United States Secretary of the Treasury, or, for those not up all the happenings of the economics world, the dude played by Billy Crudup in HBO’s Too Big to Fail.

“Yeah, it actually did,” I answered. “Funny call. I thought he looked familiar, too.”

I started to replay what had just happened. Had I just blown off the former Secretary of the United States Treasury because I was too busy reading something breaking down the first half of the Dodgers’ season? Eh, whatever, I thought, partly consoling myself. It probably wasn’t him anyway. No way I wouldn’t recognize that guy and that face and that forehead, and no way he’d be the kind of man who asks for subway directions.

“Was that just Timothy Geithner?” a dark skinned girl who had dashed across the platform said to me and the bearded man to my right. No one, in the history of the world, has ever dashed across a subway platform for a more boring reason. “I’m 99 percent sure that was him.”

Yeah, so apparently I pretty was rude to Timothy Geither on Monday. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud.


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