Wednesday, March 07, 2007
( 7:06 AM ) teahouse
Working in the Burbs - Part Trois
I had another funny story ready to tell you guys, but something happened last night that was so unbelievable, it eclipses all other stories.
So last night I was at the train station waiting for my train to take me back to the City.
It was freezing cold (under 10 degrees F), so I was really anxious to get on that train.
I stood on the platform with the 2 or 3 other souls who were brave enough to stand there instead of hiding in the station. We were all shivering, hands stuffed deep into our pockets, faces completely covered with our scarves, hunched over, jumping up and down to keep warm, not talking to each other, praying for the approaching headlights of the train.
Finally, the train came. The doors slid open, and I took a step onto it.
Unfortunately, just at that moment, my right shoe caught on the side of the door.
As if in slow motion, my shoe flew off my foot and dropped through the gap between the train and the platform, down below onto the track.
THUNK. My shoe hit the track and bounced off, hitting the ground below the platform!!
I panicked and yelled. Two women heard me and shouted to the conductor, "She dropped her shoe!"
I had to make a split-second decision as to whether to go on and leave my shoe behind, or stay and try to get it back.
I chose the latter. I stepped back onto the platform, hopping on one foot, and the conductor shrugged at me as the doors closed and the train pulled out of the station.
I looked down on the track. There was my poor little shoe, lying on the gravel next to the train track, at least 5 feet below the platform. It was too far to reach.
The two women ran to the station to get help. One of them yelled back, "Maybe we can find a broom handle from the janitor in the station, and we can hook the shoe and lift it up." That made sense to me, since the shoe was a black leather Mary Jane with a buckle that could easily be hooked.
They had been gone for about 5 minutes when my right foot, protected from the wind by nothing but a thin layer of nylon stocking, started to freeze in the night air.
It was amazing how quickly it happened. One minute I thought, "This is fine..I don't need both shoes..I can get back to the City and then take a cab home..." and the next minute, my foot felt frostbitten and started to throb in the cold.
I hopped on my one remaining shod foot, trying to keep the blood circulating.
Then a man on the platform turned and said to me through layers of scarf, "Hang on a minute. I'm going down for it. According to the schedule, the next train isn't due for four minutes; I'll make it."
All I could see were his eyes under the hat pulled down low over his head. I protested, "No way! Don't risk your life for a cheap shoe! I have others! What if the train schedule is wrong, and for the first time in U.S. history, a train arrives before schedule??"
But before I could say anything else, he had leaped off the platform and onto the track, and was picking up my shoe off the gravel.
Another guy on the platform grabbed his arm to hoist him back up. In a feat reminiscent of a male Olympic gymnast clearing the pommel horse, he vaulted back up the side onto the platform.
He handed me my shoe with a flourish.
That whole process took exactly one minute. Because three minutes later, the next train pulled into the station with a loud screech of brakes.
I was completely dumbfounded.
After thanking him profusely (as well as the two women who had come back in the meantime from the station empty-handed and were staring at the whole scene in disbelief), I got on the train.
I had to spend the next 20 minutes sitting, gingerly holding and rubbing my frozen foot. I couldn't even feel it at that point. It's the weirdest feeling in the world - putting a shoe on a frozen numb foot.
I had to tell you all this because NONE of my friends will believe this story. That a guy jumped off a train platform and risked his life to retrieve my lost shoe.
I'm not sure if he was chivalrous or just plain insane. But he disappeared once the train arrived, and I haven't seen him since. #