Friday, January 20, 2006

I get sassy

Power walking on Fordham Road. If I have to walk to work, I'm going to make it a workout. So I wear my sneakers and sweatpants, and really freakin' walk.

This morning, as I near Jerome Avenue, I hear Excuse me. Excuse me. I turn toward the sound, and see a tiny, elderly woman clinging to a lamp post. Help me, please, she said in a small voice. I cringed only slightly, and only inwardly. I couldn't, just couldn't, walk on by. Everyone else was ignoring her, I wouldn't. Would you please help me across the street, she asked. I don't walk so well. And so, I smiled, and took her hand and arm, and very slowly helped her across the street.

But it appeared my good deed wouldn't end there. How far up the road are you going, she queries, as we reach the other sidewalk. I wouldn't, couldn't lie. All the way up to the university, I responded. Would you help me get to my bus stop, please, she begged. Damn, I thought, I'll be late for work. And then I mentally kicked my own ass, because I don't punch a time clock, so it doesn't matter if I'm late, I just work later to make up the time. So, I asked her how far that was. And took her hand and arm again and proceeded down the street.

I could see she had extreme difficulty and pain when walking. It looked torturous, watching her, needing to stop every so often to rest and catch her breath. She could have benefitted from orthotic devices or shoes to help her walk straight, perhaps a walking stick of some kind. But those kinds of things cost money. And, they would be a constant reminder of the frailty of the body.

Walking with her forced me to slow down, to interact, rather than existing in my mind for the entire walk, as I normally do. And she was a lively thing. Mental faculties fully functioning, just her body failing her. She mentioned all the colleges she'd gone to. Spent one semester at my university before going somewhere else. She was at least 70, but she just graduated college in 1989. My hat's off to her for staying on target, however long it took. She said that at her commencement, Rosa Parks was the commencement speaker. I wasn't sure whether to believe her or not, but when she told me she didn't know who Ms. Parks was at first, it seemed more legit. And then she said Ms. Parks was a tiny thing, came up to my shoulder. Well, since this woman came up to my shoulder, and I'm 5'5", that would indeed make Ms. Parks a tiny thing. But I do think I read somewhere that this is true, Ms. Parks was short in physical stature. So maybe she did meet Ms. Parks, who knows.

When we arrived at her bus stop, she had to wait for her bus, so I offered to stay with her and help her get on the bus. She thanked me profusely, and shared that most people do more than just walk on by and ignore her. Many of them get attitude, and yell at her for bothering them. I try to let it go, she said, but sometimes I just get sassy. Look, I say, you will be me sometime in the future, and when you ask someone for help, I hope you remember how you treated me today. I only hope you won't be treated the same. Bless her soul for being sassy. She is an incredible woman.

All I know is that these continual encounters with life in my commute have been particularly noteworthy, and I can't complain about things too much when I see the life around me. I'm just fucking glad I'm alive, and I can still walk unaided.

12 comments:

Curious_2b_sub said...

What a great story. A nice reminder that sometimes a nice deed can go a long way.

Curious_2b_sub said...

Tag Tag Tag!!!!! Lol... I know you love it!!! Go to my blog, coz I don't know how to link you to the post :)

Anonymous said...

Nice story Spring, I believe however, I'm looking at it from a differnt angle than most. You see I was born in that neighborhood. Your story takes me back to a long time ago. My first home was over by the zoo, but my grandparents had a place on Arthur Ave.....I used to hang out at the candy store on the corner....thought I was a tough guy (I was about 5) and I'll never forget the live poultry market (God, did that place stink!!!) and of course to people, some long gone, some only recently departed, others I've just lost touch with.

My family's been out of the Bronx for quite some time now, I haven't been there in years..... but I just was for a few seconds.....thanks for the memories. *grin*

Frank

Mi3 said...

Beautiful story, and now you know my link to your blog works!

Spring said...

curious, thanks. It has made a difference in my whole outlook today. Great changes in me. Look out world.

Spring said...

Tag!!! We just don't have enough people in here yet to tag four people at once. We've all been double, tripled tagged. Oh well, it's fun.

Spring said...

Frank, oh my gosh, what a small world! I've been to a couple of the great Italian restaurants on Arthur Ave.

When I walk to work, I get off the Hudson line at the Major Deegan, and walk down Fordham Road to the university. There's still a live poultry market, right next to a car dealership, and I walk by just after the poultry arrive/depart in the morning, when they are still hosing down the sidewalk. You're right, the smell is incredible.

I really get a feel for the neighborhood, it's a really nice walk. I mean, if I hafta walk. :D

Spring said...

curious, thanks. It has made a difference in my whole outlook today. Great changes in me. Look out world.

graffitti artist said...

nice story ... and ... ain't it the truth ...

such small, simple, huge things to be thankful for ...

every day

infinitesimal said...

Hey Spring,

I got the chills from your post here. I really like it and that you took the time to write it, and that you were concious in the moment too. You know, I think that the sassy lady could have been able to bless you. And if she did, you probably got a big one.

Nice Job!

Spring said...

graffitti artist, yes, sometimes we get so busy we forget to take time and really experience life. This was just one of those moments that I think will be in my mind for some time.

Spring said...

infinitesimal, thanks. The one good thing about having to do this commute is the people that have impacted my life. They come into my space for mere minutes, but the effect is forever.