At the end of a long day, most people get on the subway and collapse on the first empty seat they can find; with aching backs and throbbing feet from walking and standing all day. I’m sure most commuters can relate and will agree.
While an opportunity to sit might be a time to rest for most, this actually becomes an opportunity to work for others. I am usually fine tuning a power point presentation, adjusting notes or planning my day on the train. It has become my mobile office. The only reason I fight for seats on the train is so that I can get some work done.
Today, I am without my laptop. I decided to leave it at work. Furthermore, I unloaded the ninety something quizzes that I graded this weekend on my desk. For the first time since I purchased it, my backpack was virtually empty.
It felt liberating! However, once I boarded the Manhattan-bound 4 ,I became anxious. Had I made a grave mistake? I thought to myself. Should I go back? For the first time in 12 hours, there was nothing for me to do; no papers to grade, no lessons to work on.
I felt like a runaway slave during his first moments of freedom, like a soldier coming back home, or a parent in an empty nest. What now? As I searched for answers, work or something purposeful in my bag, the time went on and the train became more and more crowded with each stop.
Bodies clumsily bumped into each other. Folks were holding on for dear life, at least it seemed. All the while I had a seat to myself, with nothing to do. I didn’t want to simply sit, I wanted to work.
At 14th Street an elderly woman slowly, yet gracefully boarded the train.Her complex story was written within every wrinkle that crossed her brow. Here hands were timelines. And every experience of her existence was telling in her posture.
With several stops to go, I stood up. I needed something to do and she needed the exact opposite. To my disagreement, she opposed. “Please, have my seat.” “No, thank you,” she replied. She didn’t say a word. Her eyes said it all.
The seat remained empty for all of two seconds. It’s new tenant, was a twenty something year old bombshell in the prime of her life and red-bottom pumps. Ain’t that something?