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.