Tuesday, May 05, 2009

led by strangers

well, I wouldn't want to stand there and wait for a conductor.

He was so patient, seeming to look at a point just off my shoulder as I reached him in line, a steady stream of besuited ants marching by him and out the train door.
- one woman, the one that sat next to me and spoke staccato
words in a language I did not recognize, stepped off, turned around and
said, "does he need help?" and then before I could advise, disappeared.

"I only see one conductor and he's way down at the first car [helping
people who are perfectly capable of getting out of the train all by their
big-boy selves...] - why don't I take you where you need to go" I said hopefully to him, above the din and shuffle.

"aren't you nice. thank you" he offered and we stepped over the threshold, a gap that I normally
ignore completely, but of which today I made a verbal presentation. "we're stepping over now" I said eagerly and when our right feet hit the platform in unison, he took hold of the heel of my hand and launched down the ramp to the station with more conviction than me. His command of the space - limitless to him and bound to me by hundreds of bodies and obstacles, caught me off guard and I momentarily hesitated - he was leading me, for a moment, and then I rebounded to finish the job as I thought I should.

This could be my realizing that I take too much for granted - vision, among other natural 'gifts' but I'll refrain, and it would be untrue. Mostly in those moments I had with him, I thought about whether or not he could do things better than me, like smell and feel. If it's annoying waiting on arms to hitch rides, and if he could tell by my voice that I am a nice person - and an idea for a love story. Certainly he can't tell his gentle grip on the heel of my hand and great purpose with which he took his steps made me think about falling in love without seeing someone. No, you can't tell that from a walk and a chat about the daily commute - so banal and chatty a chat about the acronyms that follow us like stray dogs through our days in DC.

No I'd have to tell him that, I suppose. And many other things that none of us care to see in each other.