It was late. Around 11:30 pm. Way too late for anyone over the age of 65 to be awake, let alone out and about in the rain. I was walking back from my friends’ party with no umbrella or coat, and there she was.
“Can you help me get across the street?” she asked. She must have been 80. White hair, wheelchair bound, no raincoat, no umbrella. Just chilling on a street corner like it was 3pm on a Wednesday, and her aid was around the corner buying sardines.
Now I should preface this by saying I am NOT the kind of person who talks to strangers. When homeless people walk by I generally look down. You can judge me all you want, but until you’re a 25-year-old, single girl walking around New York City alone at night, I’d prefer if you held off just a bit. But she was old. And sad looking. What kind of schemes could she be planning? (If my dad were reading this, he would chime in-“A million schemes, she could have had a team of trained kidnappers in a van waiting to grab you and sell you into sex slavery.” Yes she could have. But honestly, they probably would have gotten me anyway. I’m not super light, and I wouldn’t say I’m the fastest runner. No pair of kicks could speed me up. I’d be snatched up by anyone semi athletic in 10.4 seconds.)
“Please. I just need to get across the street,” she tried again.
I was going across the street. Home was across the street. How could I cross the street and not push her as I went? I’m not a monster. The lady was in a wheelchair, carrying about 300 plastic bags. Did I mention the bags? They were under the chair, on her lap, and wrapped around the chair handles. She had enough bags to build a tarp over a 2 block Manhattan radius and then also fill up on month’s worth of groceries.To this day I will wonder what was in them, although it was probably better that I didn’t know.
So I walked her. Pushed her across the street in the rain until we got to the corner, and then I stopped.
“Where are you going now?” I asked, seriously hoping she was going to say “right here, this is my building.”
“I just live another few blocks away.” And as soon as she said it I knew I had been suckered into taking her all the way, because I am no saint, but I also didn’t want to read about the old lady who died on the street corner the next morning, because some girl couldn’t push her another two blocks in the rain. So I pushed her home. Or wherever we were going. It’s still unclear.
Many things are still unclear. Like what she was doing out at that hour by herself. She told me she had taken the bus 10 blocks downtown so she could make a phone call, which is so absurd, I almost had to believe her. Can you even make something like that up? She had to take a bus 10 blocks downtown in the 21st century to make a phone call at 11pm in the rain. Mind boggling.
When we finally got to her street, and I started to push her down the small hill that led to her building, I hit a small dip in the curb and the wheelchair caught. This is it, I thought. This is how I die; I will get hit by a car on a street corner with an old bag lady in the pouring rain.
And then, as if from a movie, and I promise you this happened, because you cannot make this up, this guy around my age emerged from the apartment building next door. Tall, cute, wavy hair, warm eyes, holding a GOD BLESSED UMBRELLA, and a part of me was like thank you lord someone will help me, and another part of me was like is this how I meet my husband? Is this the cutest story in the world? Will they write a book about us?
He hurried over in his chivalrous glory. “I found her on the street corner,” I whispered. “So this is a big help.” He smiled, said something about it being nice to be able to do a good deed for the day (okay weirdo, let’s not show off how nice we are, we’re both good deed-ing it up), helped us get out of our ditch, and pushed the old bag lady the rest of the way.
We left her building side by side. He held his umbrella over my head, and started to walk me back to my apartment. Was he the one? Would this be it?
“So you live here?” I asked as we passed the building he had emerged from, just a block away from mine. My wheels were already spinning. It would be such a cute story. Such a convenient romance. A New York Times wedding announcement deserving of a full page spread.
“Nope, visiting a friend,” he said. “I actually live at home. With my parents.”
Nope. Nope this would not be it.