“Winter storm warning. Difficult commute home ahead.”
It was deceivingly quiet and beautiful. Twirling flakes sashayed through the air, landing on the ground like a pirouetting ballerina. Then the sky released its wrath, unleashing layer upon layer of snow. Equipped for battle with my fleece jacket (atop my scrubs, atop my long sleeve T and leggings), mittens, beanie, scarf, 2 pairs of wool socks, snow boots, and coat, I rushed out at 5:45pm, hoping to get home before conditions worsened. It shouldn’t be too bad.. it’s not like it’s a blizzard or anything. Or so I thought.
8 minutes till the next bus. My coworker accompanied me to the stop to ensure I got on the bus safely, telling silly jokes while we waited. “What’s black and white, black and white, black and white?” I don’t know. “A penguin rolling down a hill.” Our giggles formed wispy white curls in the chilly air. For a moment, all seemed merry and bright.
But after 30 minutes of waiting, I started shivering. It was rather cold. And the bus… never came.
~ ~ ~
“Need a ride to the train station?” my other coworker pulled up to the bus stop, after getting out of work. I eagerly jumped in.
In the car, snow whipped against the windshield, like a hundred white arrows flying swiftly towards us, deterring us from our destination. Leftover ice prevented the snow from melting upon the glass. The windshield wipers were useless.
“I can’t see! I’d pull over, but there is no where to park…” she cried. A shoulder on the road was buried underneath all the whiteness, but we didn’t know where that started nor ended. We were on a bridge, and there was water beside us…somewhere.
Maybe I should have stayed at the bus stop. In front of us, we could barely see the tail lights of a car. It flickered, then disappeared, then reappeared but speckled with snow. I thought I was hallucinating, the visibility so poor. We drove carefully, like a turtle treading on ice.
~ ~ ~
Arriving at the subway station, an overhead announcement played. “Due to a medical emergency on this line, there is a severe delay in service.”
What!!! I sighed. 15 minutes later, a train arrived. At least I’m on the train..
Suddenly, at one of the stations, a child, roughly 6 years old, ran into the subway car. He had no shoes on; he only wore his pajamas and socks. It looked like he was running from someone. The subway doors slammed shut.
We all looked at the boy, stunned, and quickly realized there was no adult accompanying him. A fellow passenger desperately tried to pry the doors open with his hands, but he was unsuccessful. The rest of us passengers stared at the child, then back to the doors.
Someone must’ve hit the emergency button; the doors slid open. The man who had followed the child stepped onto the bus. He was a subway employee.
“Come on little guy, let’s get off the train and wait for mommy ok?”
The child shook his head. He didn’t speak. And when he did, the words he uttered didn’t make any sense.
“Alright, if you won’t get off, we’ll stay here on the train and wait for mommy ok?”
Inwardly, we all groaned, but waited in silence. A few of the other passengers tried to talk to the child, but the boy never replied.
Unexpectedly, the boy began to peel his clothes off.
“Whoa whoa there…” The subway worker tried to stop him, but the boy didn’t listen. Maybe he was autistic…
We were asked to switch to a different subway car. After being on that car for another 15 minutes or so, they announced that we were ‘all set,” and the train continued on its way.
~ ~ ~
When I got off the train to switch lines, music echoed through the subway station.
“Sweet dreams are made of these…” a woman bellowed, accompanied by an amazing keyboard player. His head bobbed up and down with the rhythm, feelin’ the beats, as his fingers trickled up and down the ivories like he were a secret classical pianist.
Towards my left, in the space in front of the musicians, was a homeless guy dancing his heart out. He danced like no one was watching, as if he were dominating the dance floor, in the comfort of his own living room. He swung his hips from side to side, raised his arms as if he had an invisible partner, stepped his feet apart, then together.
I smiled. It’s been the craziest night so far, and now I’m in the subway, and the homeless guy is dancin’ like it ain’t nobody’s business.
The musicians finished their song and paused for a short break. When I turned around, the homeless guy was lying on a bench; his sweatshirt covering his face, to block out the light.
I almost laughed out loud. One moment he was waltzing and booty shakin’, the next minute he was asleep!!
The keyboard player returned. The intro of Bohemian Rhapsody beckoned me, and had I not had such a horrendous night already, I might have actually stayed to listen to the next song. But my body involuntarily pushed me forward, as I grabbed the handrail on the train and climbed onto my last leg of my commute.
~ ~ ~
Walking out the subway station, the sidewalk had been swallowed by snow. To capture the seemingly peacefulness of the snow (aka to remember the ridiculousness of this night), I snapped the above picture. My hands froze in the one minute I removed my hands from my mittens.
I pulled the door open to the apartment. The warm air immediately welcoming me in…
Just 10 miles, a bus that never came, a crawling car ride, a late train, a missing child, a dancing homeless guy…. all in 2 hours…
but not defeated.