I had the sweetest encounter with a woman recently. It was a brief and fleeting moment where we crossed paths – she has been on my mind ever since.
I was on my way home from work one evening, racing for the train (as always!) and very much in my own little world. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an elderly woman who was dragging a suitcase behind her. She was frail and it was almost as tall as she was.
Although she was manging on the flat ground, I wondered where she was heading with it. The Luas platform was just ahead and it had two or three steps leading up to it. Was she was going to try to lift it up there? Should I offer some help?
The way she was standing, it looked like she was just going to cross the road, probably over to Bus Aras. I didn’t want to be rude or ASSUME she needed help, so I kept going. I walked past her and skipped up the steps myself.
I always stand in the same spot to wait for the tram, and when I reached it I turned back to see where she had ended up. She was at the bottom of the steps, looking back and forth between her bag and the platform. It was almost as if she was trying to magically move it with her eyes.
It was obvious now that she needed some help, so I made my way back and gave her a hand.
Once she had steadied herself and her bag on the platform, she gave my elbow a little squeeze and said, “You know, I watched you walk past and thought – I wish she would help me”.
That gave me chills.
I smiled at her and said, “Well I looked at you and wondered – does she need my help?!”.
We both laughed and she said, “You must have been sent to me”.
Then she gave me another smile and shuffled on down the platform with her gigantic suitcase. I stood there for a few minutes in the warm fuzzy glow from what had just taken place between us.
Now, I’m the type of person who quite likes to keep to myself, an introvert you might call it. It takes me time to really relax around new people, and sometimes I find it easier to just not put myself in those situations.
But then every so often I meet someone who reminds me that making connections and being tuned in to the world can actually be really good for you. People come into your life for a reason, even if they don’t stay there forever. We are learning from one another all the time, and sometimes it takes a stranger to teach us a valuable lesson.
If my head had been buried in my phone or a book that day, as it so often is, I wouldn’t have spotted that lady. I have no doubt that someone else would have helped her, it’s not about that. It’s that we would have missed out on that lovely little moment together.
I also would have missed out on the reminder that no matter how linked we all are through social media and our phones etc, it doesn’t hold the same power as making a real human connection.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is that we should all just take a second every so often to look up and see the world. You never know who might be looking right back at you and thinking ‘I wish they would help me’.
Written with love,