Lee Hirsh - Stuck on a Stranger



To tell you the truth. I was too tired to walk all the way home, so I went to the tram stop. The day was drawing to a close. It was dark and my vision had become even more impaired. As I waited, l struggled to read the timetable, so I approached a stranger, a middle-aged man with a stick, who was also waiting for the tram. I asked him, “Do you know when the next tram will arrive?” He said, “I’m very sorry, I can’t. I have a vision problem, one of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis”. I replied, “ I, too, have a vision problem. I have keratoconus caused by misshapen corneas.”. We shared a chuckle.


A few minutes went by then I heard the rumble of the tram pulling into our stop. The man got on first, supported by his walking stick, and I climbed gingerly abroad, gripping the rail firmly. We sat down diagonally across from one another, and as the man became more at ease, he began to remove his shoes. The soles had come adrift. I called to him, “ Where are you headed? What are your plans?” The man shrugged.

“ I don’t know but I’m going to Chapel Street.”


As my stop approached, I felt like a clown in a balancing act as I collected my shopping and my handbag while also fumbling in my pocket for an unopened packet of chewing gum, my last purchase from the checkout operator. I threw the packet towards the man, turning back to yell, “ Take these, they might help. And don’t forget to chew them well!” The tram door was closing behind me as I heard him yell back, “ What a woman! What a resourceful woman!”


I couldn’t stop myself giggling all the way home. I hoped that he would arrive safely with his chewing-gummed soles, and that one day I would meet him again on the number 16.