A few weeks ago, I came home from some errands happy that I’d found the Power Rangers Super Legends Lord Zedd chaser figure. I’m not a huge Power Rangers fan, but Zedd’s always been my favorite of their villains and blah, and blah, and blah.
When I got home, there were three people in the lobby waiting for the elevator: an elderly man, an older woman, both of whom I recognize by face, and a younger woman I don’t know at all. As soon as he saw me, the old man said, "I know he’s going to the thirteenth floor."
"That’s right," I said, believing he was just flashing some information he possessed.
"Well," the old man said to the older of the women, "maybe he’ll take me."
What I didn’t know when I came in was the elevator that stops at the even floors wasn’t working. The old man lives on twelve and, because of the bum elevator and his dependence on a walker, was stranded in the lobby and had been for some time. He asked if he could go up to the thirteenth floor with me and then would I help him down the stairs to twelve. I am not a monster among men, so I agreed.
On the ride up, the old man said I needed only carry his walker down the stairs. He would use a cane to get himself down the steps, but he knew he’d never be able to negotiate that and the walker. I told him I could carry the walker down and then come back up and help him down the steps, but he didn’t want that. At that point, I saw the first trace of embarrassment cross his face. "What a difference a day makes," he said. "I mean, what a difference a few years makes."
Like Ralphie confronted with the a creepy Wizard of Oz fan, "Yeah," was all I could say.
"I’ve been here fifty-two years," the old man said. "Lived on the fifth floor first, then moved up to twelve. Everyone’s gone. My wife’s gone. Kid’s gone. Everyone’s gone."
Widowed elderly are not uncommon, so I tried to sympathize about the latter. "Your kids moved away?"
"No, they’re dead, too. My son had a brain tumor in 2002."
"I’m sure sorry to hear that," I said, feeling like an absolute ass. All this man wanted was help getting home and I had him thinking about his dead child.
We arrived at the thirteenth floor and everything went perfectly; walker and owner got to the twelfth floor safely. The old man thanked me profusely which, combined with his open fly that I first noticed in the elevator, made me feel quite sorry for him, which I’m sure was the last thing he wanted. I went back to my floor feeling good about my deed, but thinking how colossally insignificant something like an action figure, or any hobby, is in the face of an inability to get home from you own lobby.
Lord Zedd is pretty cool, by the way.