Bag Lady or Angel ?
Bag Lady or Angel ?
I am the very best at judging people. I have a default setting of scorn and it doesn't’t matter who I cast my gaze upon; they are always less than me. If I’m kind to myself I could say it’s a basic animal like instinct. You know! To survey your surroundings for potential threats or enemies.
I want to have a kind Christian nature that sees the good in people, but I have to fight a paranoid suspicion that sees those around me as a threat or at very least making up some fantasy woven with inferiority or downright badness.
So there she was that day; a woman on a train. She had dared to cross my path by sitting there, clustered with what I first thought was shopping. With self-righteous indignation I invaded the seat opposite, marking my territory with a look. Her look fitted what I wanted to see. Uncaring and self-centred. Yet as I took my seat her face softened for a moment as she became aware of her surroundings and tried to gather up her possessions as best she could.
I was still in superior mode when I caught a wife of stale urine. Her scruffy looks and worn clothes confirmed my status above her, or so I thought. She was preoccupied with trying to dial a number on her mobile. She stared down on a number scrawled on an envelope flap, which she occasionally took out and re-read. Without warning I changed inside. The sadness with which she stared at the scrap of paper, the scatter of possessions stuffed in laundry bags, carrier bags etc began to tell me a different story. Maybe this was her world. Maybe this was all she had. Suddenly I saw a sad lady on a journey to nowhere or at least a voyage into uncertainty and blackness.
All I could guess about her age was that she was probably half mine. Her hair was dyed bright pink and tied back on a ponytail. Her eyes (when I could shoot a glance) were cornflower blue. Her countenance tired and limp. I looked again at the snatched possessions clearly visible in her baggage. They had all the hallmarks of someone who had left in a hurry. I can’t remember what she actually said when she spoke, but it was something along the lines of ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get…’ I replied in polite tones and it became clear she had no money and was prepared to ‘jump’ the barriers at the station if she had to. She was aiming at a town fifty miles away. She had just split up with her boyfriend or something and was going to a relative. She mentioned the destination and I shuddered inside. I knew the town and even the estate she was trying to reach and… well, shall we say it’s not the most salubrious of settings. Whatever emotions were churning in her heart they were enough to drive her on such a voyage.
I changed in an instant. Persuading her not to try a ‘runner’ but let me pay her fare and help her onto a train at the mainline station. I don’t know if it was right, but the choice had to be hers not mine. I only wanted for her not to suffer the ignominy of arrest etc. I knew the transport system well and it is not a place where one finds solace. Something inside me spoke and the voice said “help her” so I did.
Our paths will never cross again and I will always wonder. Did I meet a bag lady, a victim of domestic strife? Or was she an angel sent to test me, teach me and give me a chance to be good? My last physical action was to say goodbye, but just to be on the safe side I alerted the Transport Police to her situation with a mind of seeking a watchful eye on here. The effect or our brief encounter will I pray have a longer effect on how I see others and as importantly, myself.
May God bless you madam and keep you in his care……..wherever you are.