In the Métro this late afternoon, a woman with two small children approaches and asks something of me. It’s crowded, hot, I can’t hear what she says, not even sure she’s speaking French. I assume she wants money, and reach in my bag for my wallet.
No, no, she says, I don’t want money – I want help with the children and the stroller…
I’m terribly embarrassed, I apologize. I feel like disappearing into the rush of commuters, never wanting to see her again. But I stay. I drop my shame, I drop my « I, » and do what’s necessary. All she needs is a helping hand. This is not the moment for « I » to take control.
My son and I help her carry the stroller, the baby, the other child, up stairs and down, through the bustling corridor, to the platform of her train.
She thanks us, we all smile at each other. Then we leave her there, comforting her sleepy older child, and head toward our own way home.