A SLIVER OF INCONVENIENCE

A woman I saw lost $100. Even though I don’t know what she was going to do with it, I feel bad — real bad.

Maybe, I wonder, she was going to use it to buy food for her kids. She was right in front of a grocery store, and she has the wrinkles to prove she’s a mother. They are under her eyes, extending along her cheeks.

Or maybe she was going to use it to buy some new clothes. Her jeans were ripped and stained — not in the fashionable way some people have it, where the rips are on the knees and the stains are along the thighs. No, these deficiencies could only be attained from years of working at a factory — the rips weren’t forced, but earned through years of wearing down the fabric; the stains weren’t bold, but faint, like from a grease spill.

Then I noticed she was carrying an envelope. It had been ripped open with a pointer finger, leaving frays of paper near the opening. It was one of those official envelopes — you know, the kind with the see-through front for the address. A bill, probably. Maybe she was paying her bills.

Whatever it was for, I feel bad.

Could have fixed it, I guess — me.

I was walking to work, a few minutes late, when I saw her drop the $100 on the sidewalk, unbeknownst to her and everyone else. For that sliver of a moment, I let it be, in my mind, just another piece of paper, floating to the Manhattan pavement.

So I said nothing — thought it’d be too inconvenient.

I went about my day, trying to let it become another passing moment in New York life.

There’s no one to say it to — it’s the irony of New York — but, truly, I am sorry.

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