I stood there with a sick feeling in my stomach. My arms were crossed in front of me as I stood at the edge of the curb, trying to look completely at ease. He would glance back from time to time and shrug helplessly as another car drove past.
I wanted to offer to do it myself, but that would just confirm to both of us what we already knew. So I stood patiently, letting him be the gentleman in the foggy light of the late night street.
When yet another car drove past, I stepped forward.
You know how I love public transportation, I'll just take the train. Or the bus. I've been a big fan of the bus lately, remember?
No. It's late and you shouldn't walk from the stop by yourself. You're taking a cab.
His voice betrayed the anger I knew he was feeling. And even though I know it wasn't directed at me I stood staring at him in shocked silence for a moment.
I'm sorry. It's just that we both know you should take a car.
Okay. So back to the curb.
I wrapped my jacket around myself and started counting people on the sidewalk. I started counting the people down the street who were hailing cabs and moments later getting in.
I started listing reasons the cars were stopping at the next corner. It was a main street. It was closer to their home. It was on the way out.
Then comparing the people who they were stopping for. They looked nicer. Richer. Older. They looked more likely to give a big tip. . .all the things but the obvious as I stood watching my friend stalwartly stand in the street, hand held high.
Unbelievable. In a city this big. With this many people and we still deal with this.
He sighed and turned toward me.
Maybe we should walk down a little farther.
We turned together and started down the sidewalk. I wanted to say something. I wanted him to know I was angry for him. That those drivers were idiots.
But I didn't want him to mistake it as pity. Or that I thought I could understand. I can't.
Let's walk, I said.
To your neighborhood? That's awfully far.
He looked pointedly at my feet in their fancy shoes.
I'd rather walk. I want to. We're already on the way. I like the company.
He smiled and slowed his pace.
We didn't need a car to stop. Not then. Not tonight.
But I said a small prayer for him for the night he might really need one.
7 years ago