This morning I finally met Noble Maloof. I'd seen and heard the old man with the Brit accent many times on the bus, but sadly never met him until today.

I plunked myself down next to him and after a moment he extended a hand saying, "Good morning!" as if we were going to be working on a long project together rather than just taking the bus into town. "Good morning," I said rather surprised. I shook his hand. "My name is Mumble mumble," he said. "What?" I said. "Noble Mumblef," he said. "Nice to meet you," I said. After a few moments he turned to me again. "What's your name?" "Sarah" I said. "What?" he said. "Sarah!" I said as the young man in front of us turned to look.

Noble fumbled in his breast pocket for something, pulled out a battered plastic check book, absent-mindedly opened and closed it, and stuffed it back into his pocket. He then pulled out his wallet. I wasn't sure why he wanted to show me his medical insurance card until he pointed at his name: Noble Satskru Rihnums (sp) Maloof. "Ah!" I said, "how did you get a name like that?" "It's a long story," he muttered. He then pulled out his checkbook again and a pen. "Write your name here, please," he said, pointing to the back of a deposit slip. I wrote my first name. "Sarah!" he said with approval, very relieved at knowing my name. "Do you have a surname?" he asked. "H****," I said. "Hoagland?" he said. "Yes," I said. He carefully printed out the name Hoagland next to the first name on the back of his deposit slip and then underlined it twice. "I once knew a Hoagland," he said.

Today for the first time ever, I was Sarah Hoagland. This will probably never happen again.

I found out that Noble Maloof is a surgeon, operated once on a naval captain's daughter's appendix and the grateful father took him along on his ship, he fought in WW2 where he lost most of his hearing, moved to the US, took up research at a local University, where he is currently working on a book about kidneys.

"All mammals have kidneys," he said, "elephants, humans, whales (pause), rhinos." "That's something we have in common then," I said. "What?" he said. "Kidneys," I said. "You do?" he asked, startled. "All mammals," I said (slightly louder). "Do what?" he said. "HAVE KIDNEYS!" I said. "Oh, heh heh, yes. Yes, we do."

We arrived at my stop and I thrust out my hand to shake his and said, "Good luck in your research today." "Oh, thank you," he muttered and looked out the window.

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Blogger Joel said...

Dear Ms. Hoagland,

Thank-you for the lovely story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It really made me think, because in most discussions of what all mammals have, kidneys don't even get a mention.

Keep on commuting.

20/7/04 22:35  
Blogger Brian said...

Very nice.

21/7/04 10:20  
Blogger El Fid said...

I once met an old folk CWRU prof/researcher. She looked like a sweet, little granny. After one conversation, I found out she was a forensic dentist; she was the one who matched dental records to charred bodies. Senior citizens can be some of the coolest finds on any rainy day.

27/7/04 15:38  

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