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Praying for bugs and the circle of life
Elton, can you hear me?
I was on the subway the other day, when at an outdoor stop as some people were getting on, a man stopped the woman in front of him.
“Ma’am,” he said gently, “there’s a grasshopper on your backpack, let me get him off of you.”
The woman looked startled (who wouldn’t be) and said, “Yes, please!” and laughed. When he brushed the bug off of her, it landed on the floor—and I saw it was a praying mantis.
I was afraid people on the train might try to kill it, so I moved closer to it and started acting a bit protectively around it. A woman standing near me, giving me the ok-kooky-white-lady! look, asked, “Is it bad luck to kill them?”
I said, “Well, I’m of the mind that it’s bad luck to kill anything, so I’m going to let it out at the next stop.” She shrugged an understanding nod at me. The man who originally removed the li’l creature from the backpack said, “I agree, but we gotta kill lantern flies, you know?” Point taken. And roaches. Whenever I have to kill a roach (rare these days, I promise), I spray it and yell, “I’m so sorry! Better luck next time! Sorry, sorry!” The woman giving me The Look clearly saw my soul.
Aforementioned guy got out work gloves from his bag, and said, “I can help get it out at the next stop.” This is not a meet-cute story, don’t get your hopes up*. I pointed to his gloves and said, “Yeah, you’re more prepared,” though I wouldn’t have minded touching it, because praying mantises (manti?) are pretty friggin’ cool.
A woman sitting down near us said, “But then someone’s going to step on it.”
“Could be,” I said, “but then it’s the Circle of Life, Simba. We did our best, and that’s all the universe asks for.” She also shrugged an understanding nod. These are high compliments in New York City, especially on the transit system.
We arrived at the next stop, and the guy with the gloves scooped up the praying mantis and let it out on the platform. We all cheered and applauded, and then, someone came running for the train. It was a construction worker who was dragging one of those wheeled tool cases behind him, and he was desperately trying to make it before the doors close. And his tool case totally creamed the praying mantis. When he made it inside the train, we were all yelling, “Noooooooooooo!” But also laughing, because New Yorkers laugh at terrible deaths often. Construction guy obviously had no idea why we were yelling at him, and sat next to his friend and probably said, “What the ever living eff” in a language I sadly don’t speak.
“We did our best,” I said to everyone.
“Circle of life,” someone else said.
It’s hard out here in these streets.
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* I was, however, on my way to a date, but I’m not going to tell you about that here. Yet.