Taking the T provides an endless source of stories. The things people talk about in front of dozens of strangers still surprises me. Sometimes these strangers haunt me for days or more. I think about them and wonder, “What happened to them?” That’s why I started the Subway Stories series on my old blog.
When I got on the train one day last week, I noticed a woman with a huge suitcase in front of her. Several colorful plastic bags were piled on it and beside her. Her head was slumped down on her chest and I hoped that she did not smell. She didn’t. I sat on a seat across from her.
I could tell that she was homeless. The longer I looked at her, the more sad I felt. I tried not to stare, but she was directly in front of me. She was an elderly woman, with a bright baseball cap that was pink and purple with sparkles.
It wasn’t that cold, but she had on a long fur brown coat. Her pale veiny fingers had pretty rings on most of them. She had a cute pocketbook, with the strap slung around her neck and resting on her lap.
You could tell she was a stylish woman. She was thin and had chin length blonde hair. Her face was deeply lined and look strained. She was sleeping, then waking up and looked restless. Nervous. Afraid. I could see a hospital bracelet on her wrist peeking out from under her sleeve. She must be sick. Or at least she had been.
I couldn’t stop wondering, “How did this get to be her present situation?” What kind of society lets this happen?
She needed help. She looked newly homeless. Like she had just been put out and still had all her prized possessions with her. Maybe it happened while she was in the hospital? All the possible scenarios buzzed through my mind. She was trying to figure it out, but was so tired.
Was there was anything that I could do? I thought about asking her. Trying to help. Did she have children? Did they abandon her? Maybe she had no children like me. Would this be my fate too?
I didn’t say anything to her. I had to get to work and make some money while the opportunity was there. So many of us are close to becoming her. It’s so easy to slip between the cracks. It’s one of my worst fears….
Another encounter that screamed Subway Stories happened just the next day on the train. I was sitting to the left of a man talking on his phone. You can see his legs and hand in the picture above. It’s so strange listening to one side of a conversation, because you can only imagine the questions being asked by the other person.
Here are a few things he was saying, “I’m doing fine. Trying to stay healthy. People say I look good, but I don’t see it.”
I quickly looked at him, because I was too curious not to. He seemed like an average guy. Then he goes on. “Yeah. Waiting for the big reveal to see everyone.”
Hmmm. That’s not something that you hear everyday. Then I started wondering, “Who is this guy? Is he on The Biggest Loser or something?”
He said that he got his teeth fixed and his wife is afraid that he is going to leave her for someone else. He kept saying over and over that she has nothing to be worried about. He loves his wife. He truly loves her and does not want to be with anyone else. No matter what.
The things you see and hear on the T…. Until the next new edition of Subway Stories, click the links for the archives.