Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Woman with Many Bandages


My commute to work is very far, and passes a refinery, a garbage transfer station and a sewage plant. Ten miles of road are under construction. The other drivers are excitable. Often, they crash. The road is strewn with wreckage.

On the worst days, the ones with the weather and the traffic and the forty-five minutes on the on-ramp, I sometimes feel a teensy bit sorry for myself. Just a little bit. Before I suck it up, of course.

Once a week, I ride the bus, which is good for many reasons, but turns my three hour commute into four. On the bus, I see the same woman every week. She sits in front of me with a knit cap on her bald head, picking at the bandages on all ten fingers. She rides the bus all the way to the airport, even farther than me.

Today, I glimpsed a medic alert bracelet on her translucent arm, and I wondered, is she flying home from chemotherapy? Is she scared? Does she wish that someone would gently hold her hand?

And it made my commute seem so trivial.