I got on the elevator, alone. Just as the door was closing a young man stepped in and scooted beside me. I noticed him when going to the elevator, he had been standing with a small group of other young people, all of whom looked like they lived rough. A voice calls out as the door is closing, "Hold the elevator please!" I am by the panel so I hit the 'door open' button and a fellow gets on, slightly older than the youth, maybe early twenties, wearing a very nice suit. He stands for only a second by the younger man, sniffs the air for a second, reaches out and stops the door from closing. He says, "I'll take the next one." He gets off.
The door closes. The young man beside me doesn't react to the slight. He knows that he smells of booze and cigarettes and sweat. It's not a surprise. I don't react either, everything I can think to say sound, in my mind, as either trite or patronizing.
But then something great happened.
The door opened on the floor we were both going to. I pushed to get off, because I was in position to do so. My front wheels just wouldn't go over the small lip created by a slightly uneven landing by the elevator. I tried a couple of times. The young ;man stood listlessly beside me, simply waiting. No urgency on his face.
I turned to him and asked, "Could you grab hold of the chair and give me a wee push?" He was now alert. "You want my help?" His voice was incredulous. "Yeah, if you wouldn't mind." He looked at the chair and said, "What do I do?" I said, "Get behind me, when I ask, just push." He did as I asked, I put one foot on the floor to give lift and asked him to push on the handles as I pushed on the wheels. I was out.
I turned and said, "Thanks."
He turned away from me. Not wanting me to see.
He was crying.