Yesterday I walked home in a thunderstorm. I rode the bus from work, to Reston’s county bus depot and then, from the depot, we all rode to the Metro stop. These shenanigans take about 30 minutes. Then I walk the last 10-15 minutes home. It started raining at the depot, and by the time we reached the Metro station it was pouring and rain was coming down sideways. On the open air landing at the bus depot are a number of small shops, hardly bigger than a garden shed. One sells pearl tea. A couple sell jewelry. One is a bookstore with what I imagine to be a *very* limited selection. There could hardly have been more than 400 books in there. But, like I said, it was raining sideways so I didn’t stop. Then there is a long open air pedestrian causeway that crosses the toll road. It has a roof, and mesh sides, so nobody becomes a victim to too much leaning in traffic. The sideways-coming rain blasted into our faces.
The causeway leads to the Metro boarding area, and for me, the other side of the tool road. I reached the very wet other side with ease, after being several dozen feet off the ground for about five minutes. I traveled down an escalator and was once again connected to terra firma, rather than air up-there-a.
This is where I spotted the worm. He was most likely driven from his home by flooding. He lay squirming in the pavement. I was surprised by the very short amount of time that had passed between him and his evacuation. His tunnels must not have been up to code. I pinched his wriggling worm body between my fingers and tossed him into a lawn-and-tree island in the parking lot. His family would thank me later.
I watched for worms all the way home on the rainy sidewalk. There was a tree that dropped long soggy wormlike pollen tufts. It tried to fool me but I couldn’t be dissuaded. I crossed a busy street, and another not-so-busy avenue, to get home. I hiked in the mud between two huge pine trees near our house. I found the next worm about 30 feet from my home. And another, and another and another. Probably 8-12 worms. Some had left too early, and fried on the pavement during an earlier rainstorm. But some were alive. I rescued them all; at least the live ones.
I always wonder at the flight of the worms, whenever I rescue one. Maybe it makes me feel slightly better about the dozens I leave behind when I’m splashing my way to the car on a rainy day. It makes me become more considerate of the hundreds I probably run down between my home and my work. What is a token worm tossed back to the grass? Well, to Mr. Worm, everything. (It is Mr. Worm still. He is still editing his Doctoral dissertation.)
In the meantime, Judi had the car in Washington, DC, where she was attending a conference. She had to pay $50 for valet parking at the hotel, but will be reimbursed. GOD I hope she’ll be reimbursed. Whatever happened to $5 valet parking?
Around 4PM, near the end of her conference day, a child decided it would be fun to pull a fire alarm. They had to evacuate the entire hotel. She, the gimpy one, led a co-worker with seizure disorders, up three flights of stairs. The epileptic one had to climb the same stairs, with her eyes closed, and both hands over her ears, so the lights and bells wouldn’t trigger an episode. Behind them, another coworker was monitoring their progress so they wouldn’t come tumbling back down the stairs. She got to stand in the same thunderstorm until, awhile later, the building was given the all-clear signal.
Essentially, we had the same day, except she is far more heroic than I am. I like to think that I rescue the little things, like worms. Judi rescues the big ones. Like her seizure-prone friend. And like me.
Every time I move, I affect the universe on a larger, or smaller, scale. I inhale microbes that don’t make it past my immune system. I stand uncomfortably close to a person in line at the grocery store. I shout at a staff member. My thousands and thousands of tiny interactions are sometimes negative, sometimes positive. Sometimes they’re with people, sometimes with the cat. Sometimes it’s with even smaller critters. All I can do is make a few of them better. I mean, I just gave Mr. Worm the chance to visit his family again (if I put him into the correct lawn island) during a thunderstorm, and to earn his Ph. D.
Doctor Worm. It has a nice ring to it.