I’m on my way out of my apartment and right on cue, the little old lady in my building is also on her way down the stairs. I know the drill by now and instead of waiting for her request I get straight to the point and ask if I can help her. Her cane in one hand and my arm in the other, I lead her down the stairs and out the door into the fresh morning air. Great, I’ll guide her to her bench just a few steps from the door (like last time) and then I’ll be on my merry way to work, feeling good about being helpful.
But things take a turn and we are not headed for the bench, oh no, we are turning around the corner and panic is starting to set in. Her Russian words aren’t traveling through a clear channel to my brain but she wants to go to the store to buy water (or vodka, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt). Panic really sets in when I look around as we are walking a meter an hour and I realise there is no shop near us. I look at my watch- I must cut this excursion off. Where will I leave this lady and how will I make it to work on time? I didn’t schedule enough time in my morning to be traipsing around with a thirsty old lady.
A bench comes into view: my only escape. I stress the fact that I’m late to my elderly acquaintance and that there’s simply no time for me to go to the store. No matter how many times she calls me “little sunshine” it’s not working on me- not today! We near the bench wet with morning dew and just as I fear she will refuse to sit down she says, “hold on sunshine” and pulls a crinkly plastic bag from the depths of a WWII relic that resembles a purse. I should have known; plastic bags are a Ukrainian’s best accessory. With no time to waste I snatch the plastic bag, straighten it out, and lay it atop the wet bench. As soon as her weight is off me and on the bench, I bolt. Seeing her window of opportunity rushing off on two legs she quickly calls after me, “wait!”…I really don’t have time for this… “What about the store?!”
Next time I’ll make my services very clear before I let anyone latch onto my arm.