In Midtown, an Unexpected Encounter

Grand Central Station and Chrysler Building in Midtown ManhattanAhead, a man slowed the pedestrian traffic exiting Grand Central toward Lexington. One suitcase in front and another behind, he inched his way through the acute angle the heavy door formed with its jamb. A nudge with the foot, a push with the hip to make the angle wider. Another inch.

With the exception of potential delay, New Yorkers tend to make their way toward doors already in use, one after another going through until the final someone twists her body to slip through just before it closes. 

On either side of the man, the people before me took to the unused doors; to open one, to struggle with its weight was quicker than to pause before passing through. 

As I entered the door to his right, I noticed the luggage I’d first seen from afar piled high in my periphery. I looked over: two small push carts, laden with large, plastic bags—a balancing act from the sum of his belongings. 

When the door at last closed behind him, he paused in the vestibule. I opened the second door and held it from the other side while two people took the opportunity to pass through and the man pondered a solution to yet another exit. 

I was awaiting a companion who remained behind him, he seemed to assume. Unmoving, he peered blankly through the opening to the bustling sidewalk—a way made but not for the taking. 

Whether from shock or relief, his eyes grew wide when I motioned for him to come through. 

“You saved the day,” he said, his voice carrying a small laugh through the white of his beard. 

His face was inches from mine as he pulled the second cart through the door. I smiled. 

“Take care of yourself,” I replied, knowing how little that means—and, hopefully, how much.

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