One afternoon, my secretary alerted me to the fact that i was to expect two visitors. She did not go into detail who these visitors were or what business they brought to discuss, nor did i inquire due to my frenzied activity upto that point. Shortly after, my phone rang, and going against custom, i answered. It was my boss.
"Have they come by yet?"
"Has who come by?"
"Well, i told them to come down and immediately interrupt what it was you were doing."
"My daughters, for chrissakes!"
I sunk in my chair. I hadn't met them before, but i knew even then that i didn't want to entertain his daughters. I hung up the phone with him and immediately dialed my secretary, intent on instructing her to stall all attempts at piercing my quiet, inner chambers.
"Too late, Mr. D. They're here, right now."
"...send them in...i guess."
My door burst open, and in exploded the pair, like a ball of energy at full momentum in a long downhill descent. It wasn't until they looked me in the eyes did these two young girls stop in their tracks. They were six and eight respectively, and even in their nascent stage, i still could see the heartbreaking campaigns they would be destined to oversee. I'd heard all about these girls from my boss - he couldn't stop boasting about them, and rightly so. I did not look forward to their inevitable appearance because i knew, once they arrived, parading their magnificent "girlness", i would be prisoner to every demand they made. As was the case with them standing in my office, however, i offered them something that perhaps their own father hadn't prepared them for.
I've written before about the transfixing quality my eyes seem to have over the opposite gender. Without fail, i know that these overly fair, gold-speckled, blue eyes of mine will grab the unsuspecting female, and place her at a considerable disadvantage. Gradually, i've come to learn that it isn't just my baby blues that arrests these lasses in their forward progress, but in fact, it is the entirety of my face that seems to broadcast a signal that i'm to be trusted by every morsel of their being. The latest, and most profound example of this happened four months ago.
I live in city that attracts the trafficking of all kinds of materials, contraband and illegal in every respect. The most tragic and hardest to stomach of those items shuffled through this underworld processing plant is that of the human kind. I've seen entire rooms filled with row after row of indentured people, given the task of some quota to meet, only for that quota to help pay off the debt each individual and their attached family owed for their illegal transport to the "Land of the Free". However, i'd never had a firsthand experience with this seedy underbelly that slithers constantly under this metropolis that i love.
I was taking the East-side trains uptown, heading to a rather important meeting. The doors to the subway opened at 14th Street, inviting more passengers into our already crowded car. She stepped in, scanned the dozens of faces that occupied the subway, and of all of them, decided i was the one who would help her. She sat down next to me - forced her way, wedged her way into a seat next to me that didn't exist - and the first thing i remember thinking was how tiny she was. Everything about her was tiny: her head covered with long silver hair; her eyelids tight, thin, held together; her hands, which after a moment or two i noticed the piece of tattered cloth they held. She shoved the patch of fabric in my face, as if it was the most natural gesture in this dialogue between two people who didn't speak the same language. I looked at the piece of fabric, and saw that someone had written an address on it in permanent marker. They had written this address on rag, given it to this woman who clearly had just been cargo within the past 48 hours from all points East, and told her to make her own way to this place.
It took very little for her to hand over this textile message to me, with the hopes i'd be able to get her to the destination scribbled on it. I didn't recognize the address, nor did i believe the train she was on would get her to where she needed to get. I turned to other passengers, asked them, showed them the fragment, looking for any advice as to how i could direct her to the right place. No one had any idea, or if they did, they refused to get involved.
I handed her back her tattered treasure map, and gestured to other people on the train that she should reach out to. She outright refused. She'd determined that of everyone on that subway car, i was the one who was going to get her to where she needed to go. Now, mind you, because i understood how she got into this country, this city (illegally), i wasn't necessarily motivated to see her deposited at this random address waving in my hand. Who knows what tortures or pressure lay before her. But, what's worse, i thought, than an old woman who's only words came from the Mandarin language to be floating around this big, bad city?
I eventually convinced her to follow me off the train, up some stairs and made her wait as i took her address scribbled across this torn cloth to a station agent who helped me figure out which train and train stop this little Chinese grandma needed. I didn't speak a single word of her tongue, nor did she speak mine. The only reason, i've concluded, that she attached herself to me was due to the calming, arresting qualities of my face.
I've reflected on this matter numerous times since it happened. Did i do the right thing? Should i have invested more energy and resources to make sure this woman made it okay? Why, why of all the people on that very crowded train did she make a bee-line to me? It leads to me to question some of my own interactions with the submissive females that have passed through my life. I understand that on the surface i appear like a very trustworthy, if not downright innocent, individual. No one would pin on me the dastardly acts i commit upon the feminine campus, and i wonder if this has been the same mind frame that operates in those young ladies who entrusted me to treat them with kindness and respect, based solely on the kind qualities of my visage. I wonder if this serves as a comfort and a sedative as they gradually allow the entrance of my other face - to allow it to come into clear, and unequivocally vivid focus.