A reporter interested in my Month of Hundreds tagged along as I rode the MAX out to the airport for my trip to San Francisco. I tried to go about business as usual but was a little self-conscious. A photographer came along as well and he was lurking politely in the distance. I got on the train with my suitcases and took a look around. The C-note was in my pocket.
I slid into an empty seat and pulled my bags close. A young man (a kid, really) was in the next seat. He looked at me and shook his head. “Rough day”, he said. “Rough day?” I repeated. “What happened?” “I got kicked out of residential treatment”, he explained. “Just for talking to a girl.” He told me he’d been in treatment for 51 days and wasn’t quite sure what to do now. He said he was trying to get home to Washington somewhere, and something about calling this girl or a friend of hers. I had a little trouble following the story and could feel his confusion and worry. Again he said it was a rough day and he stood up to get off at the next stop. “Take care of yourself!” I urged.
After the guy got off I wanted a change of scenery and moved to the other end of the car. A striking woman briefly met my gaze as I maneuvered my way down the aisle. I stood by the door as we got to the next stop and a few people went and came. The woman got my attention. “There’re seats up here”, she said. “You want to sit down?” “Thanks”, I answered with a smile “I haven’t decided yet.” A few seconds went by. “I’ll help you with your bags”, the woman offered.
I made a move toward the empty seats. She reached over and pulled my suitcase up into the aisle next to her and I sat down across the way. “Thanks a lot.” I asked her where she was headed and she said she was going home. She’d been to traffic court to pay a ticket that her son had incurred while driving her car. “So, he’ll be paying me back. Hopefully.”
“Actually”, I said, “Do you mind if I sit next to you for a minute?” “Uh. Ok.” I caught sight of the photographer a few rows up ahead as I got closer and started telling her about my project. I said I wanted to pass a gift along to her and handed over the $100 bill. “Wow, I can’t take this! I can’t take your money.” She saw the photographer and got alarmed. “What is this? Is this for real? What’s going on?” The reporter came over and started to explain. “It’s legit. Really.” The woman eventually relaxed and told us her name was Angelah. With an H. She said she felt guilty taking the money but that it couldn’t come at a better time. She’s a single mom with four kids and she’s going to school for her nursing certificate. She thanked me a bunch of times before getting off at Gateway.
Our flight was delayed for almost an hour for a “ground freeze” while Airforce Two (Vice President Biden on board) was loaded and launched. The guy sitting next to me was on his way to Honolulu. By the time we landed he had about ten minutes till the doors would close on his next flight. The flight attendant made an announcement letting everyone know. When the cabin doors opened, everyone stayed in their seats and cheered while the guy sprinted down the aisle and onto the jetway. I just know he made it.