Friday, December 04, 2009

Cross This Road When You Come To It

Here is a piece of context: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am on campus all day. Meanwhile, my breastfed baby is at home slowly sucking down my hard-pumped nutrients. I have increasing difficulty pumping, mostly due to this and similar incidents with the dean. When I do finally get home, I generally burst in the front door, change my pants, and immediately nurse his starving face off. I can't dally after work. I have a baby to feed! I rush-walk with elbows out to get to the bus and I pinch my own fingers with anxiety if the bus sits in traffic. The journey home is the most stressful part of my whole darn day.

Here is another piece of context: At the writing center, I have been working with this blind student lately. He tends to schedule my last appointment of the day and then, since we are headed in the same direction, he asks me to help him walk to the bus shelter on 5th and Bigelow. At first this was a really interesting experience. I never helped a blind person walk before, so I liked having to talk about bumps and steps and inclines. But then, it takes MUCH longer than my race-walk with elbows out. Much, much longer. And I usually get the bus at 5th and Atwood, where there are typically still seats, instead of 5th and Bigelow, by which point the seats are all gone and the aisle is packed tight like my new back fat in my old shirts.

This means that if I help this student to the bus stop, I generally miss the EBO and have to catch the next one 7 minutes later AND I have to stand the whole way home. So my baby is crying, I'm standing, I'm freaking out, and I'm pressed against the mushy stomach of another bus rider who may or may not have Ebola/Swine Flu.

I, thus, had to tell this student I couldn't help him walk to the bus. And even with all of these factors considered, it took a lot of guilt and self-pep-talking to finally not offer my services to help this student!

Here is what happened after work the other day: I finished my shift, threw on my coat, and was race-walking down the hill. My elbows were really pumping, because I saw my bus approaching and I was about to miss the light to cross 5th Ave. There is nothing worse than being stuck across a 4-lane street and watching your bus rumble past as you wait for the light to change!

My stars aligned. The light stayed yellowish-green, the EBO rumbled onward, and I was going to be ok! Just as I crossed 5th Ave, a little, hunchy old lady patted my arm (elbow flying! Look out!) and said, "Ma'am, can I ask you a big favor?"

I paused. "What can I do for you?" I figured she'd ask me for change for the bus or something. I was even ready to give it to her, so excited was I to have made the light and see my bus approaching.

"Can you help me cross the street?"

THUNK! That was the sound of my heart hitting the pavement. Really???? I said, "Oh, dear. I just came from across the street...."

Then, before I could finish, this woman got irrationally furious with me. She started swearing and yelling and calling me names. Using profanity about young people these days! I got so fucking angry at her that I started yelling right back. "Look, I have to get home and feed my newborn baby! And my damn bus is coming!"

"Oh, sure. Yeah, yeah!" And she started sort of lumbering away. As I got on the EBO, I saw a nice couple helping her across the street. I spent my whole ride home wallowing in guilt. There I was, the woman who refused to help an old lady across the street.

But you know what? I'm glad I chose Miles over that damn lady. I walked in my front door on schedule and he was so happy to see me. We had a lovely nursing session and then he had a great night's sleep afterward. And for that, I refuse to feel badly.

So why can't I stop thinking about that lady?


Sikora said...

Are you catholic? Guilt eats them away (speaking from experience). Don't feel bad. Miles & Corey are your priority, not a blind guy, not an old lady. You did the right thing.

ellen said...

I thought you might have titled this, "When you get to the fork in the road, take it." As far as I am concerned that lady was CRAZY and you definitely did the right thing.

Em said...

You can't help everyone. This stings for someone with a big heart, but you know Miles needs you more.

bethany said...

i don't know, i think you have to turn in your cute old lady cred if you start swearing at and berating someone. just my two cents.