another trip on the subway that many in 212 will recognize
The woman kept yelling for help. Much as I wanted to help, I didn’t really want to climb back up the stairs and witness what the problem was, even if there was something I could do. Some people think that because I’m big and tall, mildly overweight and butch looking, that I must be strong. If I was strong, would I be overweight? Think about it.
But, she would not shut up. And the tenor of her voice was increasing, much beyond the level of pleasant benign neglect.
Curses! I had left my headphones at home. I looked longingly at the cute Asian couple blissly smiling in one another’s face as they simultaneously listened to Bach, Beethoven, or some such acceptable diversionary excuse for not engaging people. Aha, by the crinkling of their otherwise smooth foreheads and ridiculously small noses, it was obvious her shrieking was invading even their technological cocoon. Maybe they would go up and see what was wrong with this shrieking she-demon. No, they simply turned up the volume on their handheld device. Good going, guys.
I had become convinced that the woman was crazy. She had much too much strength in her voice to be some disabled woman who had simply fallen out of her wheelchair or snapped her aluminum cane. Her being in the subway relegated her to a class of person beyond bothering to rob or plunder, so I doubted she was the victim of a violent crime, and her willingness to scream pretty much put rape out of the realm of possibilities. If the fool perpetrator was still there, he must be deaf. I was becoming deaf from where I stood. I really didn’t want to tire myself by lugging these meat and bones back up those stairs, especially since I had to do it at my stop anyway. Besides that, I didn’t want to go up and see any blood. I especially didn’t want to see my blood if the assailant was still feeding on her paralyzed carcass or rummaging through her personal belongings. I was not raised to be a reliable curious witness.
After another several minutes of her escalating rancor, I finally was guilty enough, in the Catholic sense, to rise up and offer aid. I could yell too, you know. As I finally reached the top of the thirty or so endless steps to the top, it was just as I thought. There stood this mildly disheveled woman with hair matted to the sides of her head and profuse sweat beading upon her forehead. She also had a bad case of dandruff. She was blind and repeatedly pacing back and forth in front of this glass partition that continually masked its very edge just as she approached it. She was never going to find the end. Later on, I would chuckle to myself that she looked like one of those white-faced mimes practicing feeling a wall, but in this case, she actually was feeling an invisible wall. I’m sure a few people had managed to bump into it. The authorities had since taken to placing black spots at eye level to at the very least, warn the normal-sized people to notice the spots before their eyes before they painfully noted the spots before their eyes.
Since I didn’t want to scare her or myself, I first started talking in a normal voice volume. I had heard that blind people had exquisite hearing and I didn’t want to injure one of the few senses she had left, poor thing. This didn’t work, of course. She kept yelling. My polite throat clearings were buried in high-pitched yodeling.
I finally had to scream at her that she was standing before a glass partition. She screamed back that I needed to help her. I told her I had paid already and was not going to go back out, pick her up, and pay another fee. My card wouldn’t let me any way; it had been used too recently. Besides, I told her, all she needed to do was walk a few steps to her left, continue to use her cane to feel where the glass was, and continue down the hall to the gate opening. She started screaming again for someone to help her. She had decided that I was of no help whatsoever. I was sure someone was going to come along and throttle me, claiming I was injuring her. I was not in the mood for that, even if she apparently was.
I tried once again to reason with her. She needed to turn around 180 degrees and reapproach the ticket agent who would help her. At least, I assumed he would help her. He was getting paid to be of assistance. As she continued to plead for help, I looked past her at the agent who was talking on the phone. I began to think that maybe he was just another unhelpful agent when he turned and gestured at the woman. It became fairly clear; he was talking to someone about this screaming banshee in his station. I assumed it was someone who could help. Maybe he was summoning a person who could come over and scribble Braille in her hands, since she wasn’t listening to the spoken word. I turned to go back downstairs. I hoped my train was finally coming. The noise in this station was deafening. If I hung out much longer, I would be one of the handicapped needing sign language to communicate or a sponge to collect the blood springing from my eardrums. With my luck, no one would hear or respond to me either. I’d just be another bloody deaf person in the subway.
The train wasn’t coming. What was I thinking? With all that noise up there, the engineer probably thought our station was under some type of attack. He either sped through while I was upstairs screaming myself hoarse to a crazy lady or decided not to enter the station until the police had cleared the station.
People looked at me as I descended the stairs. Some may have thought I had something to do with the shrieking upstairs. Others looked upon me as some type of weak do-gooder. They had that look of satisfaction I often give Good Samaritan’s when they fail. It didn’t feel very good. Maybe I’ll remember that smirk the next time I’m on the other side of it. I can only hope to match its intensity.
Standing on the platform, I noticed another young couple coming down the stairs where the shrieking woman should have been proceeding. I asked if they saw her. They nodded and said yes, but they told the ticket agent to call the police. They remarked that if they had helped her and she had fallen, she could have sued them. There it was, my opportunity to smirk, and I did. Give me a break, I thought. What a bunch of losers. That was the lamest excuse I had ever heard. What were they, first-year law students? More likely, these two idiots were pre-law. I hoped they failed the LSAT. Morons shouldn’t be allowed in law school.
At least, I had tried to talk to the crazy blind lady. Unfortunately, she was too wound up already. The police would likely have to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital for some sedation. Her trip beyond the dark walls of her apartment was going to end her up in the hospital, probably strapped down. I’m sure all she wanted was some fresh air. This little escapade might set her back a number of years in her therapy or at the very least, put her at the head of the line for a savage guide dog.
It took a few minutes for me to notice when it became silent upstairs. I wondered if they had come and escorted her away, or maybe she had gotten past the entrance and actually fallen down the stairs. As I thought this, I deliberately began to look the other way. I sincerely didn’t want to see something horrible like a blind crazy lady with blood clots streaking her dandruffed matted down hair. I needed to sleep at night. My next horrible thought was that maybe she had gotten into the handicapped elevator and gotten stuck. Maybe some sick son-of-a-bitch had soundproofed the walls so you couldn’t hear the trapped person’s screams. My imagination was beginning to get away from me. Where was the train? I imagined I could hear it coming. I needed to move on from here or I was going to need medication.
There it was again; that train sound and here I was standing next to the track, beyond the yellow caution line. As I turned non-chalantly, not wanting to show fear, there stood the blind woman. If she could see, I’d have sworn she was glaring at me. Likely, she was just listening acutely for the train. I wasn’t about to say a word. I just hoped her sense of smell wasn’t very good. I had sweated a little bit going up and down the stairs trying to bring her down to this planet. I prayed she couldn’t hear me as I crept away. Like I said, I was in no mood for blood, mine or anybody else’s and confrontations with the incompletely wired could be dangerous, even if you were just trying to help.