5 Random Thoughts On…

My blog I've ignored for 2 years while attending the Brandcenter

The Curious Case of (Ray) Benjamin’s Button


This morning on my morning commute into Rosslyn a weird thing happened. As the metro slowed to a halt at the Rosslyn stop, I stood up to leave, and the button on the front of my slacks shot off me and bounced off the kneecap of the woman sitting in front of me.

We looked at each other in horror. Did that just happen? Did my gut just explode that button across the metro car and nearly “Nancy Kerrigan,” this lady?

No one else saw this happen and as she pretended not to notice. I saw the button come to rest on the floor in front of us. Still, in shock, I didn’t know what to do. Do I apologize? Do I check my belt to make sure my pants aren’t going to fall? Do I pretend it didn’t happen?

The metro operator was announcing my stop, and the doors were beginning to open. Realizing that there was no more dignity left for me to lose I bent down and snatched the button off the floor. Without making eye contact, I hurried off the metro. In reality, I’m sure they weren’t looking at me, but as I slowly walked toward the Rosslyn escalators, it felt like the people in every metro car I passed knew of what just happened. They looked at me slowly shaking their heads in shame. The only thing missing was the “sad hulk” music as I sulked to the escalators.

If you didn’t know, the Rosslyn metro stop has huge escalators. It gives you plenty of time to stare at a plastic button and ponder years of poor life choices. Have I let myself go this bad? Are my clothes now sacrificing themselves in a desperate attempt to get through to me? I couldn’t help but wonder if I should be walking up the escalator instead of just standing here.

Nope, too depressed so I just stood there inching upward.

It was a slow walk to my building and a couple of elevator rides before I reached my office. I nodded ‘Good Morning’ to people and dumped my coat and backpack into my cube. I didn’t even take my computer out of the bag. Still clutching the button, I dragged myself to the bathroom to examine the damage to my slacks.

Thankfully no one was in the restroom yet so that I could use the mirror above the sinks. I lifted my belt and felt around for where the button had exploded.


Wait a minute


These pants don’t have buttons?


“This isn’t my button!” I said to myself in the mirror. A smile had worked itself across my face.

My gut didn’t pop a button off my pants. In fact, I have no idea who’s button this is. It was at this moment that I realized I’ve been clutching a button from the metro floor for the past 15 mins and dropped it onto the counter top and began washing my hands.

As I was scrubbing, I began to rethink the 5 seconds as the metro pulled into the Rosslyn stop. I didn’t hit that woman in the kneecap with a button. But we both thought I did. The button must have flown off someone else.

I wonder if the owner of this button even noticed. Perhaps they too were embarrassed and were happy to let me take the blame. They must have thought it was odd that a stranger picked up their button off the floor. They might even have ridden the escalator up behind me. Watching me stare at the button as we slowly rose into Rosslyn.

I laughed at the absurdity of my morning along with how bad I felt about myself thinking my gut shot the button off my pants. Thank goodness I haven’t let myself go as bad as I believed 30 seconds ago.

With a new spring in my step, I strutted out of the restroom and backed towards the elevators. Today is a new day, one that requires a celebratory breakfast burrito.



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This entry was posted on January 14, 2014 by in Life and tagged .
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Mr. Fenske is a professor at VCU Brandcenter in Richmond VA. The site is an extension of his efforts in the classroom, except for the cartoons, which seem to grow out of some disaffection he feels with the world. Thank you for visiting. © Mark Fenske

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