Wednesday, December 3, 2008
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
I was approached this afternoon by a young man who vaulted off a bus, a question blazing on his face. The question was for me, as presumably I bore the look of somebody who knows the innards of the bus and train service schedule.
"Excuse me- I need to get back to Boston."
There was a perceptible degree of stress in the blunt statement. For the sake of convenience and clarity I added the question mark myself and pointed in the direction of the enormous building that loomed behind us.
"You should probably take a train," I offered sagely, disguising, I hoped, the fact that my vast knowledge was recently acquired.
"Go through that building to the train station. There's an information desk where they sell tickets, and the gate to the trains is on the right. I'm sure the lady at the counter would tell you the best way to get to Boston."
It was all very well and good, or so I hoped, but after he thanked me graciously he added a note of potential significance.
"I have no money. Will they give me a pass, do you think?"
It was not my position to deny or grant the would-be traveller a passage to Boston. The fellow was rather well dressed, spoke decently and appeared reasonable enough so as not to alarm me but his revelation slapped me into a momentary lapse of coherent thought. My answer arrived not swiftly but on the fringe of a graceless stutter.
"I don't know. But you could ask them."
He thanked me again, and jogged toward the station building with a confident bounce.
That was several hours ago, and I continue to envision one of two possible scenarios unfolding in the meantime. Either he has been forced to set up camp in the station, is stranded in misery and has through sheer boredom and penniless desperation read the schedules so often he now can recite them by heart; or his optimism has been fruitful, the world is a better place than I imagined, and he reached home before I fashioned his story into words.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 12:00 PM