Day 7: Paying a Stranger’s Way


Know what I’ve learned? A wind chill factor of -11 degrees FEELS. REALLY. COLD.

This morning on the way to the subway, I wobbled like a Weeble down the street because of the sheer volume of clothes I piled on. With all my layers, my arms stuck out straight to the sides. I must’ve resembled a gigantic, doughy 2 year old in a snowsuit. A gigantic, doughy 2 year old in a snowsuit, wielding a walking stick (I’m too vain for a cane). A gigantic, doughy 2 year old in a snowsuit, wielding a walking stick and having a tantrum.

I couldn’t help my mood. It was frigid out there. Part of problem was that, in my current stage of recovery, I couldn’t run to the subway; the best I could do was shuffle. Shuffling is not good in a polar vortex.

Anyway, I’m on the train now, and I don’t think I’ve lost any digits to frostbite. It was close, though, as before I could get on I had to remove my gloves to fumble through my bag for a fare card (even with my fancy-schmancy gloves with touchscreen-friendly fingertips).

Somehow I pulled out not one card from my knapsack, but about six. A young woman standing next to me (wearing a rather stylish but flimsy felt jacket) was in the process of dumping out the contents of her purse, pink-faced and clearly frustrated with her own fare card search.

“Here,” I said, thrusting one of the cards in her direction. “Take it. I have extras.” Her face went slack with relief. Yet, she didn’t just snap it up and say thank you, allowing us both to move on (and into warmth). Instead, she went on (and on), explaining how nice it was of me to offer, but she couldn’t possibly accept it. Meanwhile, I could hear ice forming, cracking and then re-forming on my eyeballs.

“Seriously,” I practically begged. “Take it. It only has, like, four bucks on it.”

“That’s really kind, but I know I have one in here some—”

“Ok, like, you’re making me freeze, too, standing out here trying to convince you. JUST TAKE THE FREAKIN’ CARD!”

I’m not known for subtlety. I impatiently shoved it at her and shook it like an old lady would shake a finger at a misbehaving child. I was probably scowling, too. Eyeing my walking stick as if it were a Uzi, she grabbed the card. At that point, I don’t think she thought she had much choice.

“Thanks,” she squeaked.

“No problem,” I replied as I ran limped deeper into the relative coziness of the station, waving my hand dismissively.

So, I think I did a good deed, even if I came across as cranky (and possibly deranged). Plus, I’ve never paid a stranger’s subway fare before, so I got to have my new experience for the day. Heck, I even managed to keep my fingers and toes in the process, and perhaps played a role in saving someone else’s, as well.

Each day of 2014, I’m forcing encouraging myself to have at least one new experience (and chronicling it to keep it real). If you’re interested in why–though I can’t for the life of me imagine anyone would be that bored–check out the “about” page.


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