Saturday, November 18, 2006

Taken for a Walk

I was on my way to a job interview in an open part of the city. When I drove by the day before, the building, a squat, two-storey brick structure reminded me of the newspaper building in my hometown. What reminded I don't really know. The only resemblance was two squares of block glass near the front door.

The structure from the fifties seemed forgotten in the 1980s world, alone on on a corner. Two of other corners were vacant lots and one was the location of a small convenience store. The building and the store seemed time would to become gentrified living space wasn't too far off.

It wasn’t far from high rise apartment building where I lived. I walked there easily.

As I stood on the corner diagonally from my destination, an old woman asked if I might help her cross the not so busy street. All my life I had heard of boy scouts helping old ladies cross the street, but I’d never had the chance. The idea felt good.

I put out my arm to help her. We walked ever so slowly from one corner to the next, conversing. Then she asked me to same to the next corner, taking me to where I need to be. I accommodated with good feelings. It was a nice thought to walk into an interview with.

Upon our arrival, she repeated her request a third time. This bothered me, but I continued to help. Yes, at that juncture she asked again. I retunrned her to where she had started. The question was reqpeated one more time.

I told her, “No, thank you,” pointing to the small building where I had my meeting.

The woman with the soft voice and the over-worn face asked me for a quarter. I gave her one. But I didn’t feel good about it. I felt taken for walk.

I walked quickly away to my interview. While I waited with the receptionist for the person I would be meeting. I told her the story. She said, “Oh you, met Sophie. We’ve told her not to do that. She’s always trying to get quarters that way.”

I wondered whether she was after the money, the conversation, or both.

I don’t remember the interview, the interviewer, the part-time job, or even what or companie it was I had gone there to explore,. I don’t recall the inside of the building beyond the doorway where I was buzzed in. I don’t remember the receptionist only what she said.

But I still have a picture of Sophie in my mind and still remember how sad and conflicted I felt leaving that building, hoping that she wasn’t there.
−me strauss Letting me be.


Dawn said...

What an experience you had. No one likes being taken for anything. It sounds like this one cost you an extra walk, 25 cents, and the chance to interact with the old lady who probably didn't need either of those things but couldn't help herself.

I wonder if feeling conflicted and sad on your way out is the way our subconscious helps us deal with all that feels dissonant between a young woman at the start of her career and an old woman who reaches out to unsuspecting strangers for companionship and spare change.

ME Strauss said...

Some of the conflict came from not knowing why she was doing it and therefore not knowing whether I was being taken. If knew, I could decide for myself what it was I giving and give it freely, i.e. not be taken, but instead give.

alphawoman said...

Truly enjoyed this post. I could see Sophie and you walking across the street. I have memories like that too, nothing left but a face and a comment.

Janus Torrell said...

As a former boyscout I have never run into any old lady that needed help across the street. I will be cautious to bring loose change though in case I run into one.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Alphawoman,
She really was a winner. I have no idea how she figured out what to do. She wasn't there when I came out in the end. Whew!

ME Strauss said...

Hi janus,
I thought you were supposed to carry little old ladies across the street just so that you could help them cross back again. :)

Betty said...

Well, it sounds to me as if Sophie was not operating with a full deck, and that reminds me of a lesson I'm supposed to be learning this week. Whenever I have any type of issue with another person, I'm supposed to look only at MY part in it, as if the other person's behavior is none of my business. This is tough for me. How would I apply it to your episode with Sophie? I'm going to be thinking about this one for a while.....


ME Strauss said...

Hi BetTy!
I don't know what the lesson would be . . . I couldn't tell about her and I was with her. I just did what came natrally and I felt weird about not being able to keep helping her.