A life lesson learned on the train: Don't judge a book by its cover. Oh, and avoid regret.
Inside my neighborhood metra train station, there is a little cafe stand of sorts. A man, probably the owner, works there every morning. Offering weary, not-yet-awake daily transit passengers a cup of coffee, a bagel or a banana for not much more than what it costs him. I often buy a bagel and a banana for just about $1; sometimes because I am hungry and other times because it's just too cheap to pass up and makes for a lunch better than nothing. So today, when I pulled out my cash, I accidently grabbed two dollars. Too lazy to reopen my wallet, I told him I would buy two bagels instead of one. I'm not sure what I intended to do with the extra bagel, but something inside me told me to grab it and go.
So I did. Upon exiting the train, I leaned down, smiled and made eye contact with a less fortunate person holding a sign that read, "Hungry. Need food. Please help."
The hungry, needing food please help person promptly threw the bagel back at me, screaming something nasty and making a horribly angry face. How's that for a humble brag?
The day came and the day went.
On my way home, I kept my head down and shoved my way past hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of other transit passengers as we packed back into the metra train and headed back to our boring lives in the suburbs. As I traipsed from car to crowded car, I got elbowed, tripped, bumped into and backed up against.
So I sojourned on.
Finally spotting a half of a half of a seat up near the front car, I whispered an "excuse me," as I poured myself into the crevice and adjusted my belongings so they weren't touching the other seat inhabitant, or more importantly, the floor. In doing so, I bumped my new neighbor, so obviously I apologized. For the second time of the day, I offered up as genuine of a smile as I could muster, only to be met with a side-eye glance that which can only be described as unadulterated hatred. Ouch.
And for the second time that day, I regretted my actions. I let a pinge of hopelessness sweep across me before I gave myself permission to not care.
Then my train squeezed down to a stop, I stood up and started to trudge backward to the exit car.
That's when I heard her voice.
She didn't smile. But she did stand up and call out to me. The whole train seemed to stop for her.
And all the ants marching stopped, looked up and watched as the short-haired blonde lady handed me my train pass that I had left on my seat...quietly restoring a bit of my faith in humanity.