Who qualifies?

clasificando / qualifying, by Santiago Nicolau on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
clasificando / qualifying, by Santiago Nicolau on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

It wasn’t that long of a train ride home from Union Square. But I was sure I’d get a seat and my barking dogs were demanding one. I’d gotten my glasses adjusted, done 90 minutes of research and writing work at the library, then hiked up to the big box stores to hunt for a new purse, wallet, and footwear. I was dedicated. I found these things. “You wouldn’t believe how much I saved, honey,” as the saying goes.

I didn’t manage to get a seat. I didn’t manage, despite a woman sitting almost under me getting up to insist someone else take a seat – someone unseen by me, who refused. I should have just said, “Hey, I’ll take it.” But I don’t know, something stopped me. I was going to get my own goddamn seat when the train stopped at Canal. I gulped my water desperately while I cased my fellow seated passengers. I knew those two women were getting off at Canal. I suppose it was racial profiling, really. But I was right.

I was right, but not close enough. In the space of a millisecond, while I lurched towards the seat with my shopping bags, three New Yorkers slid into place. That was it. I’d be standing. Just close enough to rush hour and no one really getting off now. For a moment I thought I’d cry. An older woman also standing surveyed me briefly.

What the hell would crying have done? And viewed objectively, what makes me look like I’d qualify for a seat? I’m looking – er – healthy these days. I am not bald. I gulped my pity party away with more cold water and settled in for the long/short ride. Fuck it, I thought, once I was feeling better. I don’t want to qualify, ever. My feet hurt? That’s not cancer, that’s bad shoes and bad genes. (One day when our health insurance recovers from its current sticker shock. and the kids don’t need me to take them anywhere, I’ll have bunion surgery and have the feet of a newborn again. Ah, reverie.)

Then someone came on who really did need help. His name was Michael and he was HIV positive for I forget how many years and I took a dollar out right away. “Thank you, everyone. I want you to have a safe weekend. I want to see you here on Monday,” he said, as though we were all colleagues, going down into the mine. Perhaps we were.

I emerged from the subway and waltzed over to my shoe guy with my newly purchased (for 10% off due to damage) shoes which just needed some glue. He said he’d fix them by Monday. Have a good weekend, new summer sandals. I want to wear you on Monday. On Monday while I work with the organizer, who is going to survey my new purchases and the books I checked out of the library and wonder if her proclaiming J and I “not hoarders” may have been a bit premature.

Have a good weekend, everyone. Shabbat shalom. Stay safe. Don’t qualify for a seat on the subway. Abide. And all that good stuff.

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