Update on the Sad bit

Remember all of 24 hours ago I wrote about the smelly subway ride home and the woman I wondered about, and mused about what I'd do if I saw her again? Well, seems I was to be given a chance to find out. Same time, same place, same station tonight ... except the car was jammed full this time. I saw the covered noses and agonized faces before I ever got on, didn't assume right away that it was her, being a bit incredulous, but got on anyhow, not daring to go to another car in case it WAS her and I was being given a chance to do something differently. Based on the duplicate odor of the night before I assumed it was her though I couldn't see for the packed people. I assumed right away that because she was in the same place at the same time, she wasn't wandering aimlessly from alzheimers or something and felt a measure of relief at that. (That would be relief from the guilt of not doing anything the night before). After a couple stops the car emptied out a lot and I sat down. Took me awhile to locate her, not having seen her face the night before, just her profile, but it soon became obvious. She was wearing multiple pairs of socks, the same clothes as before, and those blue canvas velcro shoes on both feet that you put on over a foot cast.

She was halfway down the car from me, on the other side, and kept her head down and eyes mostly aimed at the floor. Most of the people on my end of the car were talking about her, some quietly and others loudly ... comments about having seen her before, how they'd have to air their clothes out, etc ... talk to cover the silence of shame and guilt that there was a pitiful human being in the car with them that they couldn't countenance. I felt it too, the same fear/distaste of the night before ... not wanting to DO anything but get away and forget it. But I knew I'd ended up with her again for a reason. I fought the urge to commiserate with the chatty ones, and kept looking at her and debating with myself all over again. Get up and talk to her? Ask what she needed? Offer to bring Depends the next day? It was obvious to me she was homeless, given the shoes, the same plastic bag clutched on her lap, and the way she shrank from glancing at those around her though I could tell she was aware of the comments and feelings washing her way. As my stop approached, I finally worked up the courage to dig in my wallet and come up with the last $5 I had, and walk over to her. I crouched down on the ground in front of her, held out the wadded up bill, and said "Ma'am, can you use this?" Her reaction was the saddest part of it all, she jerked her head away from me a bit and didn't want to look me in the eye and sat almost shivering, waiting for a rebuke or nasty comment. I repeated the words, and she turned her head back to me, looked me in the eye for a bit to reassure herself that I wasn't going to berate her, and her eyes melted and she said "Thank you! Thank you miss." I said "you're welcome" and got up and off the train with tears in my eyes. Whatever the reason for her condition, she was entirely in her right mind, ashamed of it, and tired of being a complete outcast. The fact that someone acknowledged her as a human being meant far more than that $5, if the story I saw in her eyes was true.



But I still didn't get her name.