The Subway
Sunday November 09th 2008, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Life

Stitches East was, as always, a glorious overload of friends, of yarn, of being surrounded by creative people–I’m not sure where to start, so for right now while I have a rare moment with a computer, forgive me, I’m skipping to what followed. (Besides, how much can anyone put up with me gushing over people gushing over…yeah.  Me neither.  Although, it *was* fun!)  So.

Last night after the Market closed, my friend and fellow knitter Kate was singing in a band, the Boogie Knights, doing a benefit not far from there for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of her brother Robbie.  I lost a sister-in-law to lymphoma myself; my friend Karen and I very much wanted to go.

But in between we needed to grab a meal.  We were in a section of old Baltimore where there was just absolutely no parking.  We spotted a Subway sandwich shop and decided that that would do the deed just fine, if only we could get to it.  After a time or two around the block, I finally said, Here–you stay here in the No Stopping zone so you can circle again if a cop waves at you while I run in and order quick and run back out.

Great. Go for it.

And so my cane and I hopped out of the car and straight up into the door of the shop (don’t fall on those steps!) and stood behind a few people in line. I hoped it wouldn’t take too long.

I had a few moments to observe.  There were three people working: a middle-aged man, I’d guess Mediterranean/maybe Middle Eastern (I was trying to place the accent), a late-20’s Hispanic woman, and a petite, pretty (I think she would have been surprised to hear me say that, but she definitely was) young black woman, who avoided eye contact and looked terribly beaten down as she pulled out and replaced several empty stainless-steel canisters of sandwich makings with full ones and reached for and cut and filled the rolls to order, while the other woman stood still, muttering at the other and rolling her eyes, swishing a little lettuce off the counter into the trash.  Watching their interactions and who was doing the actual work, my heart went out to the younger one. The fellow was ringing up the purchases at the end.

I managed to catch the black woman’s eye and smiled as I placed my order; I apologized a bit for my deafness when I didn’t hear her questions about specifics.  She started to make Karen’s and my sandwiches.  I lost my balance and grabbed at the counter edge with my free hand.  I was wobbling fairly constantly on my cane–I was jetlagged, I’d just done two full days of Stitches, I was hungry and exhausted and I was more unsteady than my usual.

And yet.  There’s something very strengthening about feeling needed.  I definitely felt needed in this place in this moment of time.  I silently prayed for all three of these people working together and tried to live up to that prayer and make a difference to them all by simply being nice.

And the young black woman responded to that. She started looking me in the eye too.  She straightened up just a bit.  She started smiling back, a bit faint, but hey.  And then the other woman lightened up, too.  The man gave me a warm smile that went beyond that of oh good, another sale tonight.

Just a few minutes together.  The whole feeling of the place had changed. I thanked the young woman who’d prepared our dinner: a crab sandwich! I was home in Maryland again!

Karen was still there at the curb, no problem there; I hopped in and we went looking for Kate’s venue, eventually found an actual parking spot, grabbed it, and sat in the car and ate.

And it dawned on me and I said to Karen, You know?  Just every now and then, it hits me that it’s totally okay that I was in that accident.  That young black woman knew that I, too, had been through–well, something, anyway.  She could relate to me as a fellow traveler because my life too had clearly had some hard times.  And she and the others were just so much happier when I left than when I came in–it all works out. It really does.

We went to the concert.  It was absolutely fabulous.  The music, truly, but also…We all knew the cause we had come together for and the parents and sister we were there specifically to honor.  Bob. Deb.  Kate.  Robbie’s family.  It mattered to each one of us in the audience that we were there for them, and they were wrapped in overwhelming love at the end.  As well they should be.  As well they should be.

10 Comments so far
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Again, I am so touched by your generosity of spirit. Even at a time when most of us would be too tired, hungry and cranky to notice much of what was going on around us you manage to put yourself in the place of others and reach out. You are a wonderful person Allison and an inspiration.

Comment by rebecca jc 11.09.08 @ 3:16 pm

<3. Just <3.

Comment by Amy 11.09.08 @ 5:30 pm

i have found that a true smile give is a joy to the giver and to most of the receivers

and i love hearing about people gushing over you and your work

btw it was destined tht you go to that store that night 😀

Comment by rho1640 11.09.08 @ 6:13 pm

Lovely story!

And- another one for the Small World Files. I don’t personally know any of the band members of Boogie Knights, but musically we travel in the same circles. I’ve met at least one of them at a convention, and have probably been in song circles with some of the others. 🙂

Comment by RobinH 11.10.08 @ 6:06 am

Smile instead of getting crabby? Hmmm… I’ll have to try to remember to do that…

Comment by Channon 11.10.08 @ 7:25 am

As usual, Alison, beautiful story. You brightened their day!

Comment by Joansie 11.10.08 @ 8:38 am

Channon, she’s in Maryland at the moment, so the smile actually got her some crab–but you have the basic idea. Crabby is fine for sandwiches, but not for people.

Comment by Laura 11.10.08 @ 11:23 am

I was so excited to have you sign my copy of “Wrapped in Comfort” at Stitches that I found myself almost completely tongue tied in your presence! It was the highlight of my day, which is saying a lot, because there was a lot of very impressive yarn on display there, so much so that I almost went home without any, because I couldn’t make up my mind easily before we had to go rescue the car from the parking garage. Anyway, there were at least 4 people this weekend in Baltimore who were better off because you were there. Thanks

Comment by shadylady1216 11.10.08 @ 11:33 am

What Alison didn’t say was that she recently gifted both Kate and me with wonderful comfort shawls. As soon as I put mine on I could feel Alison giving me a huge hug and a pat on the back at a time when I most needed it. We proudly wore them all day and got a lot of comments all around Stitches.

The concert was great, but Alison was right, it was just as great to get everyone together to help remember and celebrate Robbie.

Comment by Deb in CT 11.10.08 @ 1:44 pm

There are a few other blogs I read,mostly because they’re funny.Today I definetly realized the reason I read yours is because of the warm fuzzies I get and of how I see things that much more clearly now.Thank You!

Comment by Kim 11.10.08 @ 2:05 pm

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