The Longest Now

Coil shuffling
Tuesday August 12th 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I encountered a man the other day, gray haired, dressed in light colors, stretched out in meditation, touching his toes. Two small white bags (tools?) were by his side. He was down between the train tracks at Kendall, and I considered his relaxed pose, envying his form.

I was with a friend; we were the first into the station, and all was quiet. It was almost 10pm. People began to filter in. I wondered at this minor feat of calm, at how he knew the timing of the trains. Had he just finished work on the tracks? I squatted opposite him, up on the platform, saying “Sometimes you really wish you had a camera–” I noticed he was holding tightly to the third rail.

An odd thing for a subway worker to do. And no uniform… “Talk to him!” I was already halfway to the teller’s station. There was noone there, the machine tellers dominant, but a T worker (yes, /that/ was a uniform) was walking out of a service door nearby. “There is a man down on the tracks — holding onto the rail”

He ran to the subway’s emergency phone. I started dialling 911. The meditator was meandering down the tracks into the tunnel, bags in hand, not rushed but with intent. Now there were dozens of people, all watching him, many idly. I stayed on the phone, offering voice updates and a description for a third time. After a minute, something made him return to the end of the other platform and climb up. He made it outside before the police filtered in; impressive as the police station was only 2 blocks away.

I hurried outside to see if he was still there — a small crew had surrounded him, with an ambulance close by. They talked for minutes. I headed back to my friend, and we caught the next train home…

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