The hero within

I was waiting for a bus the other day when a young woman passed near me almost knocking me over. She was dragging a big cardboard box, holding it at times, trying to push it at others, stopping intermittently to gather her strength and breath. Curious, I looked at the side of the box in search of some sign of its seemingly heavy contents. Of all the possibilities my mind had come up with on the spot, none prepared me for a portable washing machine.
The girl, who was petite and thin, was carrying a little washing machine by herself, on a busy street, people standing by, oblivious to her efforts. I almost offered to help, restraining myself from doing so knowing neither my sensitive back nor tiny muscles would be of much use. As I watched her hold it up, walk a few feet, stop and stretch, lift it back up and repeat, I thought of all those women who do their best to get things done by themselves, count on their own strength and wits to get on with life. The idea that we were the weaker gender never pleased the feminist in me, knowing many women who could lift a man up with their hands, women who raised families by themselves, worked two jobs to feed their children, kept a strong front while society pitied their situation instead of applauding their resourcefulness. And as I watched her, I smiled, not once but twice, because after a while, a man came to help, a man many would call chubby with his belly hanging over his belted pants, a man many would assume was lazy, and who in that moment probably proved his high school gym class peers wrong by helping out a stranger in need of whatever muscle power could be extended.
Two stereotypes were broken in front of me that day, as I waited for the bus on an ordinary day. Just another ordinary day with extraordinary happenings.


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