Lucy’s Tears

You boarded the train at the Auraria Campus station and sat directly across from me. Like nearly all of the young adults who boarded with you, your iPod ear buds were promptly inserted into your ears and music was chosen and listened to. Looking around, it was almost as if all that just boarded the train were part of a large choreographed session as devices of all sorts were removed from pockets – phones, iPods or even both. Gone are the days I guess where a book or newspaper was opened instead.

The train had not gone very far and I noticed tears streaming down your face. Was it the music you were listening to? Did something happen at school? Perhaps you recently broke up with someone and the song that you were listening to brought back memories of the two of you together and it became too much to bear at that moment. What if it was something else? What if you found out you were failing a class and perhaps were in danger of losing scholarship money or worse failing out of school completely?

As tear after tear fell on your black pullover, I wanted to ask you if you were okay. I wanted to provide even the smallest amount of comfort just to let you know that one person in a sea of strangers noticed you were upset and cared. I did nothing though. I just sat there, perplexed why I did not reach out to you. I would like to think it is because if I would have reached out to you, I would have brought attention to the fact you were crying and did not want to embarrass you. I really would like to think that. That may be a large part of why I did nothing but if I am honest, another reason is because there seems to be a sociological barrier preventing the reaching out to your fellow human being sometimes.

If I am even more honest, I should say I did not want to bring attention to myself. In my mind, I rationalized my silence by playing out what would have happened if I would have leaned forward, placed a hand on your shoulder and asked if you were okay. You would have looked up, embarrassed, removed one ear bud, wiped away a tear, said you were fine and then lowered your head again. Not knowing what else I could do, I would have sat back and the rest of the trip may have been awkward.

I have named you Lucy after a song that plays often in an iTunes mix I created. Though you will most likely never read this article, I wanted to put out there in the world that I have created an alternate ending to that day. I ended up reaching out to you and there was no awkwardness or embarrassment. Instead, you looked at me with tear filled eyes very grateful. I asked if you needed anything and you smiled and said you would be okay. I would have been willing to exit the train and take you for a coffee if you were in need of someone to talk to. You would have seen my motives were sincere and honorable. There may have been no need for a coffee but you did smile and were very appreciative of the concern from a total stranger.

Lucy, I hope that when you exited the train, your evening was better than your day. I also hope that whatever was upsetting you came to pass. I may see you again one day and when I do I hope you are smiling, laughing and enjoying life. Be rest assured If I do, I will reach out – if anything just to say hello and offer a smile.

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6 thoughts on “Lucy’s Tears

  1. Marita

    I think it was a wise choice you didn’t try to “offer help.” If you’re an older guy (aka thirties and up), it would have been creepy. In fact, while I was reading this, I kept thinking, I wonder if she was cute. I wonder if he would have given this the same amount of thought–right down to the “coffee and good intentions” part–if it had been an older man or woman or a not-as-hot girl.

    Trust me, it would have been creepy.

  2. Benny Post author

    Hello Marita,

    How interesting if not indicative of where we are as a society to have good intentions skewed into something sleazy. By your definition, I am indeed an older guy – 41 to be exact. I am also happily married and a father. The girl was not unattractive but not overwhelmingly attractive either. She was a person who was obviously having a bad day and my desire was only of the intent to comfort her.

    I see your point though. I never even looked at it from this angle because well, I do not have ulterior motives when wanting to help others. To reinforce your point, had this been an older man or woman, I would have definitely reached out. At least I would have liked to. It is always awkward to speak to someone who is visibly upset — particularly if they are strangers.

    The underlying theme of this post is that we have become disconnected as a society. If a fellow human is upset or hurting, we tend to ignore one another. Well, we ignore one another no matter what the circumstance is. I personally wish that was not the case. I will actually remove this post by the end of the day due to how my words can be interpreted. This was not the intent but I can certainly see how such a thing would be possible. This site is meant to be a community based site and I would rather not have any posts that could be deemed ‘creepy’.

    Thank you for visiting though and I’m curious if you read any of my other posts and how you actually found my site.

  3. Marita

    Hi, Benny.

    Your blog post certainly is not creepy, and I certainly wasn’t offended in the least. Removing it seems odd, and I can’t imagine why you’d do that. We cannot possibly anticipate what will upset one person and not the other, how our words will be interpreted, and shouldn’t have to.

    It boils down to this: you cannot predict or control who chooses to live in the victim mindset and who chooses to take personal responsibility for themselves. My post was not coming from a victim mindset, but because the vast majority of people in this culture seem to be in that mode, I can imagine how it would be interpreted in that way. You’re writing from your heart, and I applaud that.

    I definitely understand the sentiment in your post and the societal dilemma you’ve illustrated so well. Because you were sharing your trepidation about approaching her, I was simply offering a well-entrenched perspective of a typical young woman, and the mindset often adopted due to the unfortunate fact that it’s a rare occurrence to be approached by an older man who actually wants nothing more than to lend fatherly support. It may not be fair, but it is a reality. Even those men who appear to offer the best of selfless intentions far too often end up at that baser point. I usually don’t pay attention to age, but being approached by an older man is usually the one exception. It is unfortunate, but I don’t know one woman who hasn’t had the same experience.

    I brought it up to offer an alternate perspective that perhaps, somewhere in your subconscious, you knew this misinterpretation was a possibility and didn’t want to enter that into her seemingly already stressed situation. Maybe your instincts simply kicked in.

    I believe I found your site while doing some obscure image search. I love the image you use for this post, and when I landed on your page, I just started reading.

    Thanks for blogging!

  4. Benny Post author

    Hi Marita,

    I want to thank you most sincerely for this follow-up comment. I did not mean to get so defensive. I appreciate this perspective and it does make sense that this could have and most likely did contribute to my dilemma of sorts. Fatherly support is the best way to describe my intentions. I like that. It is quite unfortunate for young women that when approached by most men, it is not without motive. Nearly all of my friends are women and I have seen first hand what it is like for them so I certainly do empathize.

    I deliberated a while before writing this post. This moment in my life had quite an effect on me. I hate to see anyone upset and crying. I just want to reach out and help but that seems to be more difficult to do this day and age. Further, the train was full with a wide variety of people. I know the woman next to ‘Lucy’ noticed her crying and there was no reaction at all. It is this sense of apathy from people that really gets to me.

    I often wonder who reads my site. I know my friends do but it is nice when someone new comes along. I love to write and this site provides a wonderful outlet. I will create a new post tomorrow. I hope you will be back to read it. :)

    Until next time, thank you for reading! I also thank you for your viewpoints and thoughts on this post.

  5. Marita

    I’m going to push the envelope and offer another perspective at the risk of being a blabbermouth!

    Crying is a necessary part of healing, and oftentimes we can’t control or anticipate when that healing will take place. Crying in a crowded place for many is like that dream we have as kids where we get on the school bus in our pajamas. We just hope no one will notice, or at least afford us the dignity of not acknowledging that they notice.

    Two assumptions were made: one was that the girl would have benefitted from intervention. Two, was that the woman sitting next to her was apathetic. Perhaps the most empathetic and respectful thing that woman did was to give Lucy some privacy in a very non-private place. No one can know what that woman was thinking or feeling except for that woman.

    Crying is a natural and necessary occurrence. You saw a damsel in distress surrounded by uncaring people in an uncaring world. I see a woman moving through a point in her life, cleansing, feeling, letting go, perhaps even experiencing some sort of internal catharsis–a woman who will likely emerge stronger from her experience.

    I look forward to your next post.

  6. Benny Post author

    Hi Marita,

    My apologies for the delay in replying. These are all very good points and definitely worth contemplating. Despite my best intentions, there is a part of my which can be rather cynical and worse yet judgmental. From a sociological perspective, you are most likely more accurate with your assessment than I. I approached this as you say as the rescuer when in fact I should not cater to my ego so easily.

    You are very correct when you say you cannot control when crying as part of healing will take place. Anything can trigger it and the normal reaction is to try and hide it. This could bring about yet another topic of conversation which is where is the shame in expressing our feelings and emotions. This is purely rhetorical as I know full well where the shame and the need to hide weakness originates. Saying that, would not the healing be that much quicker if we could easily share this with others?

    Thank you again,
    Ben

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