Monday, September 25, 2006
A Simple Little Thing
She stood in a beaten yellow rainslicker, on the corner of 68th and Milwaukee Street, waving. Legions of cars were wafting through, slowing at the stop sign, resting to a hault, checking for the right of way, and passing across the five- point intersection; and all the while, she kept waving. It was four months into the major highway reconstruction, all of us were frantic to find alternate routes and it was here, as we all happened upon this tributary of downtown traffic, that we came upon her. At first we all thought she was developmentally disabled. Or stupid. Or simple. Because all she did was wave.
She waved. She waved at everyone, constantly. She was ummistakeably an olde-fashioned crossing guard, complete with little red handheld hexagoned stop sign. She was supposed to, we knew, be commissioned to simply direct traffic around onslaughts of little people's steps and dropped homework and laughing, traipsing tiny gangs on their way to school. Sure, she could wave a time or two to an oncoming or particularly patient fleet of cars. That wouldn't be so out of the ordinary. That would be appropriate. She could give a nod and wink even to the passing motorists at the knowingness of "adults vs children's" sense of timing and pace. But to wave so damned incessantly like this? All the time?"
It made most of us nervous, to tell you the truth. Really. I mean, really. To stand around even when there were absolutely no kids in sight and still wave?!? This really was almost too much. She had to be stunted. They would have to find out that she was too irresponsible, or too inept, or too simple to deal with potentially a real traffic problem..and they would have to take her off the route, into a home where she could be monitered and given the correct drugs and attention to this kind of condition, thing...but. Still. Still, she stood there, day after day, in every weather, on the corner, kids or no, waving. AND SMILING. Like she knew what she was doing. Like she knew she was just waving to cars, for no good reason for god's sake. Smiling and waving. It drove us nuts.
You'd think the city would have noticed, but even if they did...they didn't take her away. It just lasted and lasted. All through the months, as we found our angry, longer, twistier, more inconvient commute-paths, every day, every rush hour, to every weather report, there she was. Smiling and waving and happily escorting the occasional child across the street. There she was, mostly just waving. And then, the thing happened. It happened and it and we changed.
She waved, and out of the blue, as a whim, somebody waved back. One car. One loping, on their way through, never mind who car. Some, onebody waved back. She acted like she expected it all along. She waved a little more fiercefully back. She smiled, right into the car. And then she turned, and waved to the other corner.
One car must have seen what the first car did, they must have seen the initial wave from the car, and the rapid little influx of wave back by the crossing-guard, and her tiny little lift of a smile she regifted back. And it must have been an enticement because the second car, wanting that smile and little special wave, also gave a wave as they went through. And the rest was dominos, a landslide, history. 68th and Milwaukee Street started waving their guts out.
Oncoming cars, idling cars, turning cars, merging cars, if there was traffic nearing the area, hands were out, smiles were anticipated, noses of passengers were tilted toward the window closest to her, the same tawdry rainslickered woman who'd only weeks before had been the Parriah, the Idiot, the Toad. And we, all of us, vied for her attention. And we waved, Oh, how we waved. We waved at her, waiting for her to turn and acknowledge us, to get our portion of her little palm a flutter. We waved, staring at other cars, waiting to get her attention, and while we waited, we figured, it wouldn't hurt to wave at each other. So we did. We waved across meridians, at oncoming traffic, hoping to telecast our smiles, our goodwill, our version of what she gave us, a do-good morning thing that was way better than any other routine we'd had for years.
We waved in anticipation, hoping to get to the intersection early, while it was busy, so different than a month ago when everyone timed their commute to find the least traffic possible; now we got there 'early' just to have a little more time...to wave.
We waved and waved. We all waited for that moment in the morning commute, when we could all feel good about ourselves, and believe that we belonged, and that life was right, and love could indeed be had by all.
Most of the time the feeling only lasted until the Marquette interchange, when busses, and trucks and hundreds of cars who hadn't had a wave-moment, slid into our vision and peripheries and within moments our goodwill vanished. Our memories of the the woman were lost in fine tuning the radio traffic report, in contemplating the first order of business, in silently swearing at our purses and briefcases for losing our entrance id cards and coffee change, and of scheduled meetings and deadlines and mean-spirited politics of the day. We would lose it in minutes, most of us. We would not remember until morning, the next day, of our joy of the moment of being pure. But there she was, and is.
Wisdom and peace. Waving to us. Waving from the streetcorners, crying out, "come! come to me! all you who are weary, and heavy laden, and i will give you rest". And verily, yea, while the freeway is being rerouted, and roads are repaved, today, we come. And we wave. And we know not her name, she in the beaten yellow rainslicker, looking for all the world to see, a simpleton. A simpleton, named Wisdom, and Peace.
-written by M. Ageyev
- posted by -g @ 9:12 AM | | 1 rocks in pond
Where did you get that? We saw her, didn't we? Come on, who wrote that, really?
By 2:57 PM, at
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