Monday morning. President’s Day. I SHOULD have off from work, but I don’t.
I step outside my apartment building around 8:30am and immediately feel the biting, piercing cold. I cross over 1st Avenue and within seconds I hear a quiet yet commanding voice: “EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!”
I look to my right and there she is – a very old woman, sitting in her wheelchair outside of the senior center across the street from my apartment. ”Can you give me a push?“ I look around and yep, I’m the only one there. She is talking to me.
I walk over to this woman, who is tiny and wrinkly like a little shriveled up raisin, and am prepared to move her wheelchair slightly for her. Maybe the sun was in her eyes and she wanted to have her back to it. Maybe she wanted to face a different direction. I don’t know. As I place my hands on the wheelchair handles she asks me where I’m going. I tell her I’m headed to the subway.
”Perfect,“ she says.
Whoa, wait. Perfect? Does this little old lady expect me to push her three avenues and three blocks to my subway stop? And then what happens? She’s getting on the 6 train with me?! Where exactly is she headed? I don’t want to commit to this. I immediately look at a man in a janitor-type uniform who is sweeping around the area for guidance. He shrugs.
”HELP, let’s go – I’m FREEZING!!!!!!!!“ she screams at me.
IT IS WAY TOO EARLY FOR THIS SHIT.
It then immediately dawns on me that it’s totally strange this elderly woman is lounging outside on a freezing cold morning, unattended. Is she a resident of this senior center and plotting her escape? Am I her accomplice? Even worse, is she some kind of scam artist?
I pictured me innocently wheeling this woman around the Upper East Side and then getting put in ‘cuffs for ‘Attempting to Steal an Old Person.’ And I assure you, I do not want an old person. A puppy, maybe, but not an old person. And ESPECIALLY not this one; she seems cranky.
I know the man with the broom has observed my encounter with Granny, so I call him over and explain to him that I don’t feel comfortable taking this random old lady for a joy ride, and that I don’t feel comfortable just leaving her, either. She now changes her tune. “I HAVE TO GO TO THE FOOT DOCTOR!” she demands. OK, enough of this.
I head towards the senior center and barge into the front door to find a woman sitting at the front desk, conversing with a man who appears to be an orderly of some sort. I begin to explain my situation.
“Hi, so there’s a woman outside in her wheelchair –-”
“Yep, Francis.” The woman at the desk interrupts me.
“OK well she is asking me to take her somewhere in her wheelchair and I felt bad just leaving her –”
“Yes, I know. She does this every day. She actually can walk you know, she just doesn’t want to. She’s fine, don’t worry about her.”
(WELL I HAPPEN TO HAVE A GOOD CONSCIENCE SO SUE ME)
“Uh, okay. It’s also about 15 degrees out and she said she’s freezing, so…”
The woman turns to the orderly and says, “Bring her back in here, will ya?” He obliges and walks me out, giving me the back story on my friend Francis. “She’s 100, you know. She refuses to walk but she can. She also always tries to get random people on the street to take her somewhere.“
Yes, I gathered that. So as Francis was getting wheeled back inside, I said goodbye to my new friends and continued my walk to the train – all while thinking to myself, I hope I drop dead before getting to that point in my life.
And for added measure, I made it to my subway stop (still frazzled from earlier events) to find a ton of signs everywhere: ”NO LOCAL DOWNTOWN TRAINS TODAY. PLEASE WALK TO 59th STREET.“ (Which is another 10 blocks away).
So I took a cab, and entered a desolate, deserted work building – because every other company was off today.
About the Author
Allison is a 30-something New Yorker who blogs over at http://www.allisonarnone.com (her initials/nickname; not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous) about dating/relationships, women’s issues, pop culture and the hilarious shenanigans she often gets herself into. When she isn’t writing she’s working at her day job in digital media/advertising, photographing EVERYTHING and thinking about how she can become friends with Beyoncé.
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