Thursday, March 12, 2009

Climbing Stairs

Our largest library in Montreal, the Bibliotheque Nationale, can be accessed from within the subway system, a great convenience in frigid weather. This morning as I wait for the library to open, I look down at two flights of steps populated with people coming from and going to the trains.

Talk about character in motion! It’s amazing what you can tell about a person from the simple act of climbing or descending stairs. Some of these travelers are terribly out of shape. They use the handrails to haul themselves up, step by step. By the time they reach the landing, they pause to catch their breath. Others skip lightly, rushing to the top. I see someone reading the paper as he takes the stairs. Now that’s multitasking.

Going in the opposite direction, a young man counts bills in his wallet as he goes down. A thin woman in heels clatters all the way to the bottom of the stairs, hanging on to the railing for dear life. Her frame is pitched forward at an unnatural angle, telling me the shoes are more of a hindrance than a help.

At this time of day, I assume most of these people are heading for work or school.
I can sense their moods by the way they carry themselves. Some of them walk jauntily, with confidence. Others trudge along, as if the effort is almost too much for them. A few shuffle their feet.

From my vantage point over the stairwell, I commiserate. It would have been so comforting to be able to stay in bed another hour on such a bitterly cold morning.