I ride the Baltimore subway to work, and at times I think I’m the only white person who rides the rails in the evening.
Friday evening, there was a man on the subway platform there at State Center. I’d have judged him to be about forty. He had muscle tremors of some kind. He approached a woman, asked her if she had twenty cents. That was all he needed, he said. Twenty cents.
“I’ve got you covered, dude,” I said. I fished into my pocket and pulled out my change. I had about seventy cents. I handed it over to him. He beamed.
“You following politics?” he asked me.
I smiled and nodded. “I am, actually.”
“I’ll be glad when this election is over,” he said. “But I’m real worried.”
I shook my head. “I wouldn’t be. Obama’s got it.”
He looked at me skeptically. “You’re voting for the brother.”
“You don’t think I’d vote for that jackass McCain, do you?”
He seemed relieved. But I was curious… “Why are you worried?”
“Obama’s gone to Hawaii. He’s not out there campaigning.” Obama had flown home to visit his ailing grandmother. I’d read that morning that her brother wasn’t expecting her to make it until Election Day on the 4th.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that,” I said. “He’ll be fine.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“Everyone’s got a grandmother, y’know? And actions speak louder than words. Flying to Hawaii, to spend some time with his grandmother before she passes away, that speaks powerfully about the kind of man he is. You can’t criticize a man for loving his family, and you can’t criticize him from telling the world through his deeds what matters the most in life to him.”
I added one more thing. “I hope she makes it to Election Day, to see her grandson elected President. But if she’s not going to make it, he should stay in Hawaii until the end. There’s not a person with a heart that could blame him for that.” Obama didn’t stay in Hawaii, of course. He’s on the campaign trail out west, I think.
The train arrived. He wandered off down the platform, while I got on the car at hand.
I think I’d put the man’s mind at ease. I hope so, anyway.