A Person of No Importance

homeless subway

photo by Gill E

This morning on the “S” train which crosses from Times Square to Grand Central Station, a woman came on with an overflowing stroller containing what I assumed were all her worldly possessions, including bags of clothing and books. Her café au lait skin had sparse wrinkles, and silver braids were neatly pinned to the top of her head. She sat down, her stroller in front of her.

An agitated blond woman in a sleeveless turquoise dress addressed a male passenger, “Can you move in?”

There was a good bit of space in the middle of the car, which she felt was not being properly utilized. The man smirked at her, but said nothing and didn’t budge.

She said, “Come on, there’s room,” and she and another man pushed past him, the silver-haired lady’s stroller and climbed over my feet and that of other passengers who scrunched themselves into tight human balls.

“See?” she said. The smirking man made another face, saying nothing. Then he made fleeting eye contact with the silver-haired lady, which she may have taken as a slight.

“They’ve got the stuff they need for their jobs. I’ve got the stuff I need for my job,” she said to him, firmly, but without malice.

The smirking man said nothing.

We arrived at Grand Central Station; no one said a word.

The silver-haired lady is one of the “people of no importance,” the homeless or less fortunate people you see every day. She’s a person who probably doesn’t make you stop and wonder, who is she, how did she get to where she is today.

Yesterday afternoon, Lorin and I were watching the 1994 film, A Man of No Importance with Albert Finney. He plays a closeted homosexual bus conductor in 1906s Dublin. His true passion is theatre and he puts on amateur performances of Oscar Wilde plays at the local church hall. He recites poetry in enraptured tones to his passengers and has a secret crush on the bus driver played by a young Rufus Sewell.

Like so many (including myself), he is an “average” man of no particular importance to society or the world. But who decides what or who is of value, of importance? Do money. property and station in life truly make the man / woman? If you touch or change one person’s life or a few or a dozen in a meaningful way, are you not valuable? I think so. Who’s to say that the silver-haired lady hasn’t touched someone’s life in a profound way. I guess we’ll never know.

16 thoughts on “A Person of No Importance

  1. Every time I see a homeless person on the train….I think of that human’s life; they are loved by some one-they love, they cherish, they are living on the margins of a society that only values materialism. But there’s so much more to our humanity than what’s in our wallets. This woman is someone’s daughter, she might be a mom, grandma, sister….but because of perhaps illness (mental or physical) bad luck, she lives on the subway-and is now invisible…..except to you. Thank you for bringing her to life…and all the other wandering souls. Our nation is so short sighted, so young and foolish. A healthy society values all it’s people-helps them, offers assistance to the homeless and sick. No one should ever be homeless or hungry….in a country where “the top 4 hedge fund managers make more than all the kindergarten teachers in the country (NPR).”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must admit, I have an other story about her. I would say she was a yoga teacher based on my expereince. She has a Mexican cotton blanket used in yoga and underneath could be multiple props for her students. Her attitude is one of detachment and letting things go. She knows who she is.
    How we perceive others is always through our own experience and beliefs.
    We all have an amazing ability to create stories and share with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately our world is filled with persons of no importance. We pass them by, careful not to look into their eyes, afraid we may see their broken hearts and souls. We try to keep our distance so as not to be infected by disease, infested with some bug, or invaded by some offensive odor. Could it be that our true fear is that we could be standing in their shoes, or lack of them?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Erica—I always try to remember that these “people of no importance” were the ones that were important to Jesus during his earthly ministry and act according toward them. Can’t say I am always successful, but I try to see the face of God in all the people I meet, because they are all God’s children.

    Liked by 1 person

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