Angry that the conductor had told me to get off the train and dump my trash at the railroad station and then left me stranded as the train pulled away, I hoped that the guys in the ticket office were at that very moment in the process of trying to fire that conductor. I told my tale to the woman in line behind me.
“I agree,” she said. “We’ve come from Texas and those conductors. They do not help you.” She opened her purse and pulled out her wallet. “Here’s $20.”
“Oh no, no, no,” I demurred raising my palm.
“Yes, take it. I heard the woman say you’d be here for three hours.”
“Oh, thanks anyway. I’ll survive.” I turned resolutely and walked toward a bench and sat down. In deference to the Christmas season, the station personnel had draped a few chewed-up looking silver garlands along the walls.
I thought about my folly in dashing off to a strange city with no money or ID. On this breezy Sunday afternoon, I’d get cold if I went out for a walk. Besides, my husband had probably noticed my purse on the empty seat beside him, so he’d be calling our cell phone any minute.
My stomach rumbled. We hadn’t eaten. I went back to the kind lady. “You know, I might take that $20. If you’ll give me your name and address, I’ll mail you a check when I get my purse back.”
She waved the bill at me. Her ride had arrived to pick her up. “Take it. Just pass it on to the next stranded traveler.”
I bought a drink and peanuts from the vending machine and waited for my husband to call me.
But I had forgotten about Mike and his crossword puzzles. It took him 45 minutes to notice I was gone. Once he did, he searched the train in vain then asked to borrow a fellow passenger’s cell phone. Remembering our phone number, he punched it in and barked, “Where are you?” when I answered.
There were fireworks later, but how fortunate I was that a kind traveler took pity on my plight and didn’t write me off as a predator or thief. I’ve since passed on that twenty to other stranded travelers and an immigrant, new to the U.S.