Walking Cross-Town. Stopped By Three.

three

There were three moments that stuck, that hijacked the ever-present Consumption, that tireless Rat, Work, gnawing at the tubular intestines.  It was Tuesday morning. The train arrived at Grand Central Station. I glance at my watch. It’s 8:26 a.m., plenty of runway for my 9:00 a.m. meeting across town.

Moment One: Mom.

The feet of a throng of commuters shuffle forward a few steps at a time.  We are moving to the doorway, a bottleneck, leading to two flights of stairs (steep) and down to the underground passage, and then up the escalators onto Madison Street.

She was directly to my left pushing a stroller. Her Baby, leaning back, face invisible, is docile. Mom is wearing beige slacks, black flats and a sharp, fitted brown spring coat.  Early 30’s. Moderate build – 5′ 5″ tall. No brief case, no baby-item shoulder bag.

We are 30 feet away. How will she get that stroller down?

The commuters are diverse, it’s late morning, Suits mix with administrative staff, construction workers and students.  But, among the masses, there are no children. And certainly no Mothers pushing babies in strollers.  We shuffle forward.

We’re 20 feet away.

The line slows in front of us. We stop. I’m waiting for her to grab her child, fold up the stroller and prepare for the cautious trek down the stairs. She makes no moves.

We’re 10 feet away. Both hands remain on the handles. She makes no moves.

We’re 3 feet away. The line stalls again.  Two commuters in front. Her face is expressionless. She makes no moves. Do I offer? Do I mind my own business?

We approach the stairs.

In one swift motion she lifts the stroller, not with her right hand attached to fine china with her pinky finger extended, but a Soviet weightlifter in a clean-and-jerk. Holy Sh*t.

She keeps pace with the two-row traffic down the two flights of stairs. It’s steep. She’s confident. Holy Sh*t.

I quicken my pace to catch a glimpse as she moves ahead. She places her stroller down, checks in on her cargo and without breaking stride she continues down the hallway.

Who are you?

Moment Two: The Deal.

Up the escalators and out the door onto Madison Street. The Don’t Walk sign is flashing. I stand and wait.

To my right is a Hawker, hair is cut tight, military style.  There are 10 cardboard boxes stacked next to a makeshift table. His unlicensed retail establishment is directly outside the Grand Central Station exit spillway.  The white logos of The North Face contrast against the jet black backpacks and duffel bags.

“These are going fast people. $29.99.  Authentic North Face bags right from the Factory. Get them now.”

She stands a few feet back and watches. I watch her. She’s tentative but drawn to the Deal. A gift perhaps for her Son. She readjusts the strap on her shoulder bag and re-grips her lunch bag.  She wants to believe. She doesn’t want to be conned. She can’t afford the real thing, or a replica. She takes one step forward to reach for the bag, and then shakes her head. She turns away, her shoulders slouched, she walks down Madison. Her steps are slow and heavy – she’s bracing for another 10-hour day on her feet.

The Walk sign flashes.  I move across Madison.

Moment Three: Awwwwww, Puppy.

I’m two blocks from the office.

I see him. A giant Wolfhound / German Shepherd. He’s bouncing up and down on his front paws, his head on a swivel, trying to bite his leash. He lets out a short bark and then another.  Mom grips the leash, her little girl laughs while swinging her Snoopy lunchbox. The dog, standing eye to eye with the child, licks her face three times, and she giggles again.

I stop to let them pass. And then take a moment to watch them walk down Times Square.  

Now there’s Happy.

Game Time.


Note:

Comments

  1. A slice of life post. Lovely. I, too, have questioned those stroller moms on the subway platform. How ???? I’m told that they sometimes do solicit/receive a hand going up and down those stairs. If not…they seem to manage so very well on their own. Strength. Real. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would name this series “Be a bird for few moments and sit on my shoulder and enjoy the ride”.

    Real Life is BEAUTIFUL.
    One is always thirsty for more.
    Thanks for the ride David.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a lovely post to read first morning at home after a killer trip and 10 hours of sleep. The faces of life in N.Y., simple happiness brilliantly portrayed with observant compassion. Thank you David.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. what do they all have in common? grit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim Hoffman says:

    Dave,
    There is a book inside you which we all want to read! The beauty of your words, just remarkable!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s so nice to read about these innocent moments in time. Each of us tell a unique story in life by the way we act and move in this world. You remind us to be aware of each of them and to remember that life is not just about what we need or want in this fast paced craziness! I agree with Kim, a book on these precious “Moments” is what everyone needs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You…stopped by three? Of course! You could not have possibly made it to the office without being stopped by at least three. Not you. The Soviet weightlifter mom made me laugh. All moms are made of such things you know. When our children are small, we become transformed into super women….able to leap tall buildings and lift the weight of a car if need be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “…she lifts the stroller, not with her right hand attached to fine china with her pinky finger extended, but a Soviet weightlifter in a clean-and-jerk.” Love this visual! Keep ’em coming, DK, you have the touch. No two ways about it! 😌

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really love your blog! Thank you so much for what you share!:)

    Like

  10. YOU crack my belief that NYC is Mordor.

    Liked by 1 person

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