Friday, March 6, 2009

No Man Is An Island

The Norton Virus on my laptop flashed red for the first time in three years. “Twelve viruses detected” the ominous message warned me. Not wasting any time, I placed my computer into a large tote, left my apartment and headed for the nearest Geek Squad.

I live on Roosevelt Island. It’s the two-mile stretch of land between Manhattan and Queens, and is undoubtedly the redheaded stepchild of the five boroughs. There are three types of people that live there. 1. Diplomats. 2. Quadriplegics. And 3. Everybody else. The subway is at the Southern tip of the island, and because most people live on the Northern side, a bus transports residents to and from the train for 25 cents a ride.

It had been 10 minutes and still no bus. Freezing, I slung the tote over my shoulder, put in my headphones and decided to walk the mile long path to the subway station.

I didn’t get as far as the chorus of the first song when I saw a man in a wheelchair waving me down from the middle of the sidewalk. I lowered my headphones and asked if he was ok. “Can you give me a push?” he barked. “Sure,” I said and asked him if he needed to cross the street. “Are you heading to the subway?” he snapped, ignoring my first question. “Yes,” I said. “Good,” he responded. “I have a doctors appointment in 45 minutes, and that’s where I need to go.” Before I knew it, I was wheeling the man to the subway.

About half way into the trip, he cocked his body towards me and said, “My name is Barry Cohen. What’s yours?” “Anne,” I answered and continued to push him through the brisk air. When we got to the subway, my hands were red and chapped from the medal handles, but Barry asked if I could help him on to the elevator and then on to the subway. Not wanting to leave him, I did as he asked.

Once on the train, we had a chance to look at each other. His fedora hat covered most of his silver hair, which peeked out in curls. Barry smiled and asked, “So, what do you do?”
I told him that I was an event planner, but I had been laid off in December. He began to tell me about an article that he had recently read outlining the unemployment pay for different States. Apparently, Hawaii is the worst place to be unemployed and Connecticut is the best.

I began to step out of the train at Bryant Park. Barry grabbed my hand, thanked me and said, “I hope someday, somebody helps you the way you have helped me.” I told him to “be safe” and the doors closed. As the train sped by, I thought about what Barry had said and wondered what he meant by that.

And then I realized. Sometimes, all we need is a good push.


  1. Aw. This is very sweet and very well written.

  2. It is so sweet I had to write about it on my Roosevelt Island blog....

  3. Love it -- you put a smile on my face :)