Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Summer, 1988, Washington DC, Metro Subway System, Blue Line

I was late for work as usual and found myself running down the steps of the Rosslyn, VA Metro escalator so I might just catch a waiting train heading into DC. This escalator is steep and has hundreds of steps. I’ve run down them before but this time was different. I felt slightly lightheaded as I reached the bottom but was pleased to be able to hop right on a subway car. It was crowded, as usual. As I stood there holding onto a pole waiting for the car to move, I felt the odd sensation of sweat trickling down my brow. And then, suddenly, I realized my eyesight was fading. My eyes were wide open but I could only see grains of light.. I was totally aware (I think). I felt the train start to move and heard the conductor’s voice calling out the name of the next stop. I stood there shocked. It was happening so fast. I couldn’t see anything no matter how many times I blinked. I knew my stop at Farragut West was quickly approaching. Then my stop was called. I moved as if to exit the train even though I was totally blind. It was then that I felt a soft touch on my arm and heard a female voice speak to me. “Dear, is this your stop?”, a woman asked.
I nodded, too overwhelmed to speak. She held my arm and gently eased me out of the packed subway car and onto the station platform. I still couldn’t see anything. She walked me to a bench and sat down with me. She asked if I was alright. All I could muster was “I can’t see.” She told me she was going to get a station attendant and would return in a moment. She came back with the attendant, sat down with me again and lightly held my hand. Just then, I realized my vision was returning. It was gradual, but it was happening. The attendant left, but the woman stayed with me. My sight was fully restored within five minutes or so. The woman said she was so glad for me. Then she left to board another train as this was not her stop. I went to a restroom where I splashed cold water on my head and face. I felt completely normal again. Off to work I went, like any other day.

I don't recall if I thanked the woman that helped me that day.

So, to her, I now say "thank you very much. 20 years later I still remember so clearly your care and kindness."


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