I sit in my car and look down at the clock. Late for work again. Waiting for a light to turn green when you are already late for work seems like an eternity. As I try to think of a reason better than “It’s hard for me to leave the house sometimes”, a woman catches my eye. She is walking across the street, not really walking, more like shuffling. She has blonde hair, is about 5’3”, maybe 160 pounds. I recognize her. She comes into work almost everyday and asks to get on a computer.
The first day she came in, she handed me her passport, which caught me slightly off guard. Most people I knew that had passports were young, vibrant travelers ready to paint their name across the world. But as I looked at her picture, I saw that was what she was. Young, vibrant, a traveler. The picture looks like it was taken 30 years ago. You can see the life in her eyes.
The passport looked a bit tattered, probably expired but that doesn’t matter where I work. We just need some sort of identification saying you are who you are. I wonder where she has been with this. London? Brazil? Istanbul? What did she do there? Maybe she was a part of the peace corps helping areas in third world countries develop into communities. Or maybe she was a nurse in the army and helped wounded soldiers heal. Or maybe she was just a traveler. She backpacked through the Eastern Alps studying the lithology of rock units.
I must have been wondering for too long, because she took me out of my train of thought and mumbled something. “I’m sorry, what?” I asked. “Salvation Army.” I nodded. People who stay at the Salvation Army don’t have to pay to get on the computers. I gave her a pass and directed her toward the computer. She shuffled over and sat down.
As I watched her, I thought about how she was almost unrecognizable to the person in the passport picture. The young woman in the picture looked like she had goals. She looked like she had a plan. Where did she go wrong? This woman was practically homeless. This woman who, at some point in her life, wanted to paint her name across the world.
A car beeps their horn behind me. It practically sends me through the roof of my car. I have a green arrow. I guess I’ll just right down that I slept in. How do you write down on a small piece of paper that you weren’t doing anything important that made you late. You ate breakfast really slow, laid down with your cats for awhile, watched a rerun of “Frasier” and then realized that you should have left five minutes ago? I guess I’ll just say I slept in.