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Lindsey Edson ″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [954] | Comments [2] | Scholarship Entry

I see him ascending the Williamsburg Bridge, which hands off Brooklyn to Manhattan, on the long, arduous up-ramp. His shoulders arched in a shoddy jacket as he labors over a shopping cart that swells with black garbage bags arguing for space. Their contents are a mystery their worth unknown – a treasure borne of sweat, struggle and careful selection.

Not even a smile or a coin can be pried from the lips or pockets of a single passerby. Only glances of pity from the well-heeled, or abash strangers adverting their eyes. Of course, to halt the locomotion, to roll-up ones sleeves and jump in the trenches with another human being in this city is as foreign a concept as the female taxi driver. It’s an immutable truth that life in the city dare not be interrupted.

Gripped with a hunger to empathize, and a superman cape – I jerk into action. Recognizing his wariness as I approach him, I grin and motion to help pull the front of the cart. My fingers dig into the lattice pattern and as I heave, he simultaneously pushes forward.

Our faces are left inches apart, his face creased with dirt, relaxes and gooey eyes, hooded by mangy, unkempt hair, stare in thanks and paint relief. The grin becomes mutual as creaks of the wheels speak to our gaining momentum. This shared moment startles me and I flicker to the passing strangers gawking with looks of confusion.

We work as a team, an odd duo with groaning thighs. Half way across the bridge he motions for us to break and switch places. I nod knowingly. The earthy, bedraggled smell perspires from his hard work releasing proof of the luxury that is my shower.

The bridge sloped downward and our moment of amity has ended. I release my hands from the cart and wave goodbye, looking back at a man who seems to suffer only a little less. It’s not a city that generally encourages smiles between strangers. But here, at this moment, as we parted ways, the city felt more relaxed, more intimate, at ease with itself.

Tags: travel writing scholarship 2012



Beautiful and speaks to so many people's random experiences in NYC.

  Katie May 17, 2012 3:44 AM


This beautifully-written story captures exactly why I love NYC...people from all walks of life co-habitating on an island and sharing random, but memorable moments together.

  Jane May 18, 2012 11:45 AM

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