Invisible in plain sight
November 26, 2009 2 Comments
Today, I read the story of 13 year-old Francisco Hernandez Jr. who, despite a round-the-clock search, hid in plain sight by riding the NYC subway for 11 days in October. http://tinyurl.com/11daysonsubway. The autistic boy in a red hoodie spoke to no one and no one spoke to him. His explanation, “Nobody really cares about the world and about people.”
Really? How sad that a 13 year-old has such a jaded view of humanity! Could we be so lost in our own little worlds, texting our friends, updating our Facebook status, checking our email or listening to our iPods that we don’t really see or talk to the lost souls right in front of us? They are invisible in plain sight.
Could I have just walked by Francisco and not even acknowledged his presence? With painful realization I know I could. I’ve done it before. Like the countless thousands who looked right at Francisco without seeing him, I’ve even done it in a subway station.
It was the summer of 2003 when my children and I took the subway in Boston, a novel experience for my family. My son, Sean, then almost 14, about the same age as Francisco, took great delight in finding the loose change that commuters had dropped. It was somewhat embarrassing to see him swoop down like a vulture for a penny on the platform. But, I truly was mortified when he went up to a scruffy, decrepit old man in threadbare clothing, who was huddling in a dark corner of the terminal—a castaway of society. Sean went up to him and handed him the few cents he had found. I rolled my eyes at the fruitlessness of my son’s act and said, “Sean, what are you doing? He’ll probably just use it to buy some cheap wine. A few pennies aren’t going to make a difference. My son’s penetrating dark eyes pierced my soul as he said, “Mom, he looked like he could use some money. Maybe it will make a difference.”
Maybe it will make a difference. . .maybe a smile at the checkout girl in the grocery store, maybe a few pennies to bum, maybe a hello to a quiet boy in a red hoodie. . .maybe it will make a difference