Watch­ing the world go by with... ‘ Way­farer’

Evergreen - - Spring 2016 -

There’s a nat­u­ral in­stinct, I be­lieve, that en­cour­ages us to help each other. The world, and the things of the world, tend to make it dif­fi­cult though. But that in­stinct doesn’t give in eas­ily.

Walk­ing home one evening, I saw an el­derly lady pulling her wheelie bin to the road­side. It was al­most as tall as her and, as I would find out, surely heav­ier. The path from her gar­den to the road­side was up­hill and she was walk­ing back­wards, pulling it in short jerks. Her walk­ing stick hung over the han­dle of the bin.

“Here! Let me help with that,” I called out. She didn’t seem to hear me and jumped when I ar­rived at her side, but she thanked me and let me take the bin. As quickly as I could I de­posited it by the road then hur­ried to take her arm.

“Care­ful,” I said, “those wet leaves will be slip­pery un­der­foot.”

“You know,” she said, “th­ese wet leaves make the path quite slippy un­der­foot.” I agreed. Then she sighed and added, “If I had thought to bring my brush I could have swept the path on the way back so no one else slipped.”

In her nineties, walk­ing with a stick, hard- of- hear­ing, pulling a heavy bin, and she wished she had added a broom to that load so she could have done some­thing to make the world, or that tiny part of it, bet­ter for oth­ers. I told her I thought she was quite won­der­ful — but I’m not sure she heard me.

Some­times our phys­i­cal sit­u­a­tions limit us, some­times it’s rules and reg­u­la­tions.

The man in front of me in the su­per­mar­ket queue looked a bit up­set. Al­ready in dis­cus­sion with the woman be­hind the till when I ar­rived I heard him say, “still in hos­pi­tal” and “not much they can do now”.

A mo­ment later the woman asked if I could mind her till. She told me she would get fired if any­one found out she had left her post. And off they both went, her with her arm around his shoul­der.

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