June 16, 2008 8:19am CST
"I'm sorry. Please forgive me! I don't mean to hold you up," he said as he struggled to get off the escalator. I'll admit to it. There have been times when walking or driving behind an older person I've gotten impatient and upset. I've huffed and zoomed around them because I was in a hurry to get nowhere. Perhaps I'm more aware of it now because I see myself there one day soon. Today I saw myself in this old man's shoes and it caused me to slow down, stop and ask for his forgiveness. He was about five or six people ahead of me. I was in a hurry and saw him as an obstacle. I've seen people get off the end of an escalator and stop dead in their tracks, gather their things and suddenly there's a pile up of angry people behind them. You can't stop an escalator full of people behind you. Like the Energizer bunny, they keep on goin'. This man was well aware of the challenge. He tried desperately to step aside. Fumbling with his small packages, struggling to gain his footing, you could see how troubling this was for him. "I'm sorry. Please forgive me! I don't mean to hold you up," he said as he struggled to get off the escalator. I suddenly saw this in a whole new light. It was like I was watching my future. I felt sorry for him. I felt sick to my stomach because this man was apologizing to everyone, when we should have been helping him and calming his fears. One by one, people zipped around him. I heard a few angry comments whispered as one lady passed by him. I saw me. By the time I got to him he was just about steady on his feet. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know there was more," he said. "No, sir. No more with me," I said. This really hit me hard. I realized right then how sad it was that the world was in such a hurry. That, of course, included me. But...no more with me. Count me out. This wonderful man paid his dues. For whatever time he had spent on this earth, he most likely walked many rough roads and too many important miles. Now he should be apologizing for moving slower? My heart ached as I looked into his eyes. I wished that I could see what he had seen all those years. His face weathered from life itself, was creased and wrinkled. The small soft pockets under his eyes and the gentle lines that curved up and around them told me he had many happy moments, too. Those were traces left behind from laughter and a smiling, happy man. "My friend, can I help you with those things?" I asked. Hesitant at first, he finally said, "Well, yes, thank you!" I placed my hand under his left arm and walked with him a safe distance away from the rush of people. "So what are you shopping for, sir?" "Oh, just a little something for my neighbor. She's a young mother raising kids on her own. She's always so nice to me. I thought a box of candy for Mother's Day..." he said, stopping suddenly as he searched his inside pocket of his sport coat. "Do you need something?" I asked. "Oh, no. Here. I think I have it right here. I always carry them with me," he said. Then pulling out a hand full of papers he shuffled through them and handed me a business card that read: "John A. Pomicter Friend to all...enemy to no one! I said a prayer today and you were the answer. Thank you!" "That's for you," he said. "Thanks for stopping to help an old man." "My friend, you helped me. I discovered that I was unhappy with the world and I was part of the problem. Now I'll be part of the solution. No more with me!" "Then this was meant to be," he said smiling.