Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
A little gift from Brazil via Clayton Lovett:
Adjectives to describe the people on the train were (probably) things like: healthy, sick, recently-lost-a-loved-one, pregnant, in-love, carrying-a-terminal-illness, happy, mentally ill, mentally stable, high, anxious, sad, broke, rich, content. The list could go on because the train was packed. Like, “everyone was involuntarily spooning” packed.
In an instant, we were all one thing: laughing out loud.
Before we could laugh, though, she had to yell. “Get away from the door! You cannot block the door!”
“Calm down. The train hasn’t stopped yet.” Her husband scolded.
He was right, the train hadn’t stopped yet, but she was screaming about door blockage anyway, and jamming her arm, hand, and extended bony finger across the faces and bodies of the passengers next to her, at a 20-something kid in a hoodie. It happened fast, but it got everyone’s attention. There was a sort of collective gasp and eye-widening of the entire portion of our train car.
This tiny elderly woman packed some volume in her petite frame. The presumed husband was tall, probably 6’5, with broad shoulders, but spoke with the poise and confidence of someone who had many times prior calmed this little fire-cracker of a wife.
A second later, the train came to a stop and the door opened. The passengers closest to the door, including the alleged door-blocker, dutifully exited the train to allow for the passengers behind them to exit, before re-entering.
“He can’t block the door like that,” she reminded no one in particular, as her husband guided her, hand-in-hand, off the train. I heard his calm and reassuring tone as they exited, but I couldn’t make out the words. I imagined that he was telling her that everything would be just fine.
After the doors closed, almost on cue, our entire side of the car erupted in laughter. Stranger looking to stranger with wide eyes and a big grin, and muttering things like “can you believe that?” or imitating the screech of “you can’t block the door!” to the person next to them.
To a person, seemingly, none of the passengers wanted to antagonize an elderly woman who was so clearly upset, but all of us (even her husband) knew that the train stops, the doors open, people move, and life goes on. With the risk of hurting someone’s feelings having abated, the car collectively let loose in unison. It was a fun and rare moment to share a spontaneous, un-unplanned event with a large group, where everyone was seemingly on the same emotional wavelength. For about 20 seconds our entire world was on the same page.
From Estaço Palmeiras-Barra Funda to Estação Santa Cecilia, São Paulo Metro