Her name was Hedy, and she was outside Mount Sinai hospital perched on her convenient walker seat, waiting patiently for her ride.
This seems to be a chronic issue with the elderly, being picked up from their medical appointments…having to trust eventually they’ll get home.
I saw her on my way to The Museum of the City of New York to see a photography exhibition. An hour and half or so later, coming back, she was still there.
I approach her.
“Hi, you’re still here I see. I went by before and saw you.”
“Yeah, waiting for my ride who seems to be a little late.”
“Oh, two hours about.” What impressed me was her tolerance of the whole situation that of course made me mad on her behalf.
“Do you have the number?”
“Oh yes, I called an hour ago and a woman told me they were coming.”
By way of what, Nebraska? No I didn’t say that, but was annoyed for her. Why can’t she and all her brethren be treated with more regard. She’s earned it being on the planet this long. Turns out Hedy from Harlem, God bless her, is 92.
“Let’s call again,” I said, “and find out where this person is…okay?”
She looks at me timidly but says, “Okay.”
“I’ll talk if you want?”
“No no, I’ll talk.” Good for her…loved that she still wants to fend for herself.
“I’ll stand here for support.”
“Okay.” This seemed to please her, before politely asking again…and apparently the driver was parked a half a block away because you have to be exactly where they dropped you off if you expect to be picked up. Boy, did this irk me. A woman in her 9th decade, moving slowly with her walker can’t have a little wiggle room.
The two of us ambled up Fifth and sure enough there he was, a big, black guy on his phone, smoking.
He couldn’t go round the block? Easy does it Susannah, you don’t want to embarrass Hedy. If she could keep her temper in check, then so can you.
“Thanks for stopping by,” Hedy said to me. “I’d still be there daydreaming, you know how we women do?’
I watched the driver who didn’t acknowledge Hedy, nor me, lower the back of the bus so she and her walker could get on, still on his phone.
“Hey,” I said to him with a big smile. “Take care of my friend here. She’s depending on you, ya know, to make sure she gets home safely.”
My smile could have melted ice hoping it would melt his obstinate attitude. A different approach. It was either that or tearing that phone out of his fat hands grabbing him by his shirt tails hanging out like a hobo’s.
I kept my cool, for Hedy, who by the grace of God, kept hers.