Fellow Travelers

In an episode of the Wallander tv series, Wallander buys a whole book of raffle tickets from a neighborhood kid. It seems like he did that because he’s got a thing for the kid’s mom, the gorgeous prosecutor he works with. She calls him on it. He explains that the prize is soccer tickets. He loves soccer, he reveals. He has always wanted to see an English soccer game. He bought all those raffle tickets because he really wants to win.

Wallander is melancholy and lonely. He is trying to get happy. Things might not work out with this prosecutor, but it wouldn’t be a big setback because he’s not really getting his hopes up, anyway. He’s just taking a chance, not to get anywhere with her, but to step out of the sadness.

I am so moved by Wallander that when I dropped off daughter at fiddle I dashed over to the university library to check out more of his books. And when I got to the stacks, a memory returned. One day, in my first few years here, I went to find a book written by someone in the time period I study. I ran into an English professor who asked, “What are you doing here in the PR 3600’s?” Such a funny scandal to be caught up in–roaming outside my discipline, and caught by a literature professor.

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