December 15, 2008

girl scout

I had another small pity party for myself early this morning, when I was up hours earlier than usual in order to catch the bus. Watching the newscasters spout off the dozens and dozens of businesses and schools that were closed made me pretty glum.

My day at rehearsal was dull and chilly, mostly full of knitting arm warmers and half-listening to the music. It wasn't good or bad or much of anything -- just a day. I was graciously allowed to leave early during our last rehearsal because there wasn't anything for me to do. So I walked a few blocks down to Safeway to pick up bread, milk, and a couple other lunch items.

As I left the store, I stood at the intersection, waiting to cross, when I heard a small voice say, "Lady! Lady!" in an Asian accent. It took me a minute to register that the lady in question was me. I mostly expected to find a panhandler, but instead a tiny woman, no taller than 4'10", peered up at me. She was probably in her sixties, wearing a red coat and sneakers.

"Could you help me cross?" she asked. "It's so scary! So much ice!" I was so delighted! She took my arm and we inched our way across the pavement to the next curb. She apologized over and over: "You know, you hear old ladies fall on ice and break their head!" She explained she didn't want to go out but her dog needed food. "So scary!" she kept repeating. I assured her that it wasn't any trouble at all and I wasn't in a hurry. After we hit the next curb I figured she was through with me, but instead she held my arm for another block. "Where are you going?" she asked, and when I told her -- my suburb is about 10 miles from downtown -- she gasped and said, "So far!"

"Where you walk to?" she wanted to know. I told her I was walking to the train station, and then would catch a bus. I asked her where she was going. "Just up here," she said, and pointed. Half a block later, she began to turn. She put a roll of bills in my hand at the end of the arm she was holding. "Here, for you," she said, and although I protested she wouldn't take it back. 'Thank you!" she called. "Go home now!" I told her it was my pleasure, and no trouble.

It was my pleasure! It was the best thing to happen to me in ages. Such a moment of simple trust, vulnerability, kindness, and appreciation. She had put $3 in my hand. I hope she was somebody's grandmother.

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