|Bumping into "someone" and offering a helping hand.|
Families and couples were out and about, along with gaggles of college students and tourists enjoying the final hours of the weekend. There was much to see and enjoy: trendy restaurants and boutiques; intimate gardens and expansive parks; soaring skyscrapers and ivy-covered town homes.
All was not perfect, however. Off in the distance, as we neared Copley Square, I spotted a bag lady struggling to cross the street.
She had managed to cart a suitcase and black garbage bag to the median strip of the divided roadway, had made her way back to the sidewalk and was struggling with a second battered case and several other bags as we neared. I figured it was going to take her several trips to reach the relative safety of the far sidewalk.
So I handed Wendy my camera, approached the woman and asked if she could use some help. She was fixated on her stuff, fussing about and mildly agitated. She glanced my way and mumbled something that sort of sounded like "yes" as I took hold of the case and a second bag and began to cross the street.
She told me I needed to wait until the traffic signal changed. I remain unsure if it was a legal or safety issued that captured her attention. A moment later she caught up with me and her bags and, because I'm a giving sort of guy, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a handful of bills.
It wasn't until that instant that I had a chance to get a good look at her. She appeared to be well into her 70s, a little ragged around the edges, but clean with a pleasant face surrounded by a swirl of white hair. I couldn't help thinking that she reflected the sentiment of a sign I once saw a homeless person holding: I USE TO BE SOMEONE! Someone, indeed!
I started to give her the money I was holding when she stepped back a foot or so, glanced over at Wendy and asked if she was my wife. I nodded, yes. Then things got a little weird!
The bag lady apparently had a set of rules that govern her life and quietly explained to me that she never takes money directly from men. She asked if I would please give the money to my wife and have her hand over the cash.
I can't fathom the philosophical or psychological gymnastics at play in her mind. And even though I was curious about the why of it all, I decided to play along and pass the cash to Wendy who passed it along to her.
Wendy and I still had things to see and places to go. As we headed off in search of a sugary treat and last look at the nearby skyline, I glanced back at the bag lady. It had only been a moment, but she had vanished into the twilight, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma!