From his perch 20 feet up in the bucket truck, Sean had a view of everything going on in the 30th Street Station parking lot below him. He had just finished changing out the low-voltage transformer in the cobra-head light when he spotted her. At first glance she looked like any other college student that came through the station. Drexel University was right across the street and Penn a couple blocks over, so it wasn't unusual to see kids milling about. What made Sean look closer was the dog she had with her. It wasn't one of those little froufrou dogs that a lot of girls liked to carry around. This girl was walking a dog's dog — a big, scruffy, shaggy mutt.
Sean yelled down to his ground man, Pete.
"Comin' down, Pete. Lunchtime."
Pete's job was to ensure no one walked near the truck as the bucket descended. Sean pushed the joystick control to telescope in and the bucket lurched away from the light pole. He pulled back on the joystick to fold and the bucket lowered down to the truck bed. As Sean stepped out of the bucket, he could hear an Amtrak police officer yelling at the girl.
"You can't bring that dog in the station."
The dog started to growl and bark.
"Can I just run in and use the bathroom?" she asked.
Sean and Pete walked up to them.
"You can tie him up here," Sean pointed to a parking meter, "I'll keep an eye on him."
The girl looked at the officer.
"Alright," he said begrudgingly, "but don't be in there long."
The girl smiled at Sean, tied the leash to the meter, and went into the station. Up close, Sean could tell this was no college student. She had a backpack, but it wasn't a schoolbag. There was a small frying pan hooked on to the strap and a fraying sleeping bag tightly rolled and tied to the bottom of the pack. She was one of those people who you could say truly resembled her dog – skinny legs, matted brown hair and eyes as dark as a pint of Guinness.
"Don't get too close to that dog, Sean, probably has fleas," the officer said. "She probably does, too."
Pete laughed and headed in to have lunch under the station in the electricians' shop. Sean didn't laugh. He felt sorry for the kid; she did look like she could use a shower. He knew that the railroaders' code word for a beautiful woman on the train platform, hot-rail!, would never be called out for this girl.
He lit a cigarette and petted the dog.
She came back in a few minutes, looking a little cleaner, like maybe she had scrubbed her face and neck a bit with some paper towels.
"Nice dog," Sean said. "How old's he?"
"He's three." The dog licked Sean's hand.
"You hungry, fella? You know it's lunchtime, don't ya? What's his name?" he asked?.
Sean and the girl spoke in the instant camaraderie of dog lovers.
"Sal looks like he could use a couple hot dogs. C'mon over to the lunch truck, you look like you could use a few, too."
They walked across the parking lot toward the lunch truck on the corner.
"I'm Sean. What's your name?"
She had learned to size people up very quickly and he didn't seem pervy or creepy like some men. He smiled with his eyes, not his teeth.