The back of the bus looked empty until I spotted the ringing cell phone laying on the seat.

I looked around.  No suddenly averted eyes, no rustling of newspapers.

I picked it up, rather nervously.  It was a foreign sounding voice, calling from Hawaii.

I’d just gone through security, and found myself a little unnerved at what was happening.  I’d accidentally made it through with some level of, we’ll call it “contraband” that I’d forgotten I had in my pockets, and was still a little jumpy.

Too much Hollywood , I suppose.

All I wanted to do was return the phone, I didn’t want to get involved in any international drama or intrigue, I just wanted to get back to work.

The battery on the phone was almost dead, and the fellow in Hawaii seemed to know some friends of the phone’s owner, so I gave him my number and had him call them and have them call me.

Sure enough, a few moments later – my phone rang, and a young lady, for whom English may not even have been considered a third language, tried to talk to me.  I could barely understand her – and she handed it to someone who spoke better English.

They were in the south end of town, I was in the north end, and the bus I was on was heading north-er.  I gave them the address of where I’d be, and the fellow said he’d be there ASAP.

Problem was, he didn’t know the city, and even with the GPS he had in the car, he got lost. The one-way streets didn’t help him at all.

I stood in the December drizzle in front of my building with my Subway cold cut combo in a plastic bag, expecting him to come by any second.

Ten minutes passed.

What I didn’t realize was that this would turn into a game of electronic Marco Polo, which, under different circumstances, could actually be a lot of fun.

I saw a silver Ford Explorer go by with two Chinese people looking intently at the building.

“That must be them” thought I, and I called.

Marco: “Are you driving a Silver Explorer?”

Polo: “What is that?”

Marco: “Uh – It’s a car… made by Ford…”

Okay… Scratch one Explorer…

Ten minutes later, still nothing.  I called again, got the young lady who didn’t speak English, who handed the phone to the driver.

Marco: “What are you driving?”

Polo: “A black Mazda MX-6 – I’m almost there.”

Okay, a black Mazda MX-6…

…just like the one that came rocketing around the corner as I hung up the phone.  Yeah, that would pretty much qualify as “almost there”.

I figured if he had his GPS, he’d be back in a second.

Turns out I figured wrong.

Not knowing this yet, I just stood there and waited.

And waited…

And waited…

Finally I called again and asked where he was – after several attempts, I got it out of him that he was near a McDonalds, and a Bank of America.  I could almost see that from where I was at, and at that moment, saw a trolley go by.

Marco: “Do you see the orange Trolley?”

Polo: “Yes! We do! Are you near that?”

I was blocks away, but I could see it.  He said he was walking up the street, but I couldn’t see him.

Marco: “What are you wearing?”

Polo: “A black jacket and blue jeans.”

How ironic… So was I, “I’m wearing the same thing – – and I’ve got a subway bag… in my right hand…”

I mean, if I was already into this whole international intrigue thing, I may as well go all in.  I suppose I could have told him it was a cold cut combo on wheat, hold the olives.

Marco: “What do you see around you?”

Polo: “AMC Theatres”

That didn’t do me any good, there weren’t any – no, wait, it did tell me something… it told me why we weren’t seeing each other… we were on somewhat parallel streets, that actually joined right about where he’d parked.

Marco: “What’s the name of the street you’re on?”

Polo: “Olive.” (the kind that weren’t on my sandwich)

I was on 7th and Stewart.  7th and Olive intersected a block from where I was.

Marco: “I’ll meet you at 7th and Olive.”

He said something in a language other than English – and hung up.

I got to 7th and Olive, hung a right, and crossed the street – and sure enough, a tall Asian fellow in a black jacket and jeans, code named “Polo”, was walking toward me, uh, “Marco”.  With him were two young ladies, one of whom was the owner of the phone.

I held it out – she laughed and took it.  The young gentleman in the black jacket shook my hand, introduced himself as Jeffrey, and thanked me for getting the phone to the young lady.

I smiled, said, “You’re welcome,” and headed back to the office with my sandwich, my 45 minutes of international intrigue over for the day…