Time to Settle Accounts
February 28, 2011: One small step.
When I got to the Clark/Lake stairs to head down to the Blue Line subway, an old woman walking in front of me set one of her two arm bags upon the suitcase she was wheeling and looked curiously at the task ahead. She studied the situation, first lowering the retractable suitcase handle and then raising it again. For a moment she considered dragging the suitcase and bag down the stairs wheel-by-wheel while carrying the other bag, and then she set all three bags down and eyed the stairs once more…
“Pardon me,” I said, “may I help you wi – ”
“Oh my, would you?” and she motioned to the suitcase.
“Not a problem, ma’am.” I lifted the suitcase and walked with her down the stairs.
I was on my way home from Nordstrom after purchasing a new pair of dress shoes, and she gasped when she noticed the label on the bag. “My oh my, you must be rich!” not waiting for confirmation. “I’m just so thrifty. Maybe if I got a new job for two hundred thousand dollars or something, maybe then. But otherwise, I like to live on a budget.”
I started to answer, but then she said, “Thank you again so much. And please be careful walking these stairs! You can slip and fall and go right into a coma. My sister fell and went into a coma last year, and poof, she was dead.”
“Oh,” I said, “that’s uh – ”
“She was 73, so not a young woman, but it was the sort of fall that would have killed her even if she was 32. How old are you?” she asked.
“So you see, you must be careful. I’m 68, but I can still get around.”
“I would never have guessed 68,” I said.
“That’s because I can still get around. And I am careful. But it can all be over fast. Even for a young man like you. One slip down these stairs. That would do it.”
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