Sunday, May 10, 1992

Mother's Day, 1992

In the spring of 1992, I was 21 years old and my grandma was sick. She had cancer, and Alzheimer's, and she was in the hospital. We didn't know how much longer she would be around.

On May 10th I talked my mom into going to visit her for Mother's Day. Chryssa, my girlfriend at the time, came with us to the hospital.

While we were on the train this guy came into the car from the next car asking for money. As the guy went through the car I heard him telling people that he just got out of jail and that he needed money for transportation so he could get to his job. If he didn't show up for work his parole officer would send him back to jail and he would do ANYTHING to make sure he didn't go back to jail.

I remember thinking that his story was very clever because it was intimidating and at the same time offered people a way to easily rationalize helping him.

Most of the dozen or so people on the car, mostly couples, did not give him anything, and neither did we. Then he got to this guy who was by himself and only spoke Spanish. The Spanish guy gave him some money and the guy kept going.

Then the guy came back and focused on the Spanish guy. He started asking for more money and repeating his story. The Spanish guy was pleading to leave him alone. The guy kept getting louder and got in the Spanish guy's face.

I remember my mom making a snarky comment that upset me and I kept thinking that if this guy rips off the Spanish guy and gets off the train, I would be very upset with myself. I started imagining him leaving the train, smugly looking back as the doors closed behind him.

The guy started yelling at the Spanish guy and knocked his newspaper out of his hand and kicked his umbrella off the seat.

I got up and sat down next to the Spanish guy.

"Who are you?!?" the guy asked me.

I replied as calmly as I could "I'm his friend."

He laughed and asked "What are going to do? Are you going to stop him from giving me money?"

I said "I'm not going to stop him from doing anything. I'm going to make sure he does whatever he wants to do."

The guy was really aggravated at this point and said "What are you crazy? I'm crazy. You think I'm crazy."

"I don't think you're anything" I replied.

I don't remember if the back and forth dragged on anymore, but eventually, he was visibly frustrated. Unable to intimidate me, when the doors opened, he got off the train.

The Spanish guy thanked me and I went back to my seat and the people on the train applauded.

Eventually, we got to the hospital to see my grandma. She was confused and was not quite sure who everyone was, but it was good that we saw her and told her how much we loved her.

She died the next week on May 18, 1992.

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