Anonymous Hero

Prague.

Metro train arrives at Malostranská stop. The door opens. Stream of people flows out, stream of people starts flowing in.

An elderly lady complains about a guy leaning on the door who was blocking her way. I look at him. About 18, short and well-cut beard, stylish clothes. Huge Sony headphones linked to his iPhone that he’s holding in his hand, intently staring at the screen and nodding to the rhythm. “Of course”, I say to myself, raising an eyebrow and shaking my head. “A self-absorbed hipster.”

I notice something else going on a few meters away. Two Japanese tourists, a hime cut and a large pink suitcase each. They look like they’ve just realized this might be their stop, but until the last moment they’re not 100% convinced. When the metro voice announces that the door is about to close, they make up their minds and start moving. I’m wondering: Are they going to make it? The first one reaches the door and her foot touches the platform. The second one is one meter behind. In that moment I hear the sound of the sliding door moving. In a split of a second I imagine how the door closes just in front of her face and the two girls will get separated and experience an adventure of trying to find each other somewhere in Prague’s Line A.

The door slides a few centimeters – but then, as if it changed its mind, it slides back and remains open for another 10 seconds.

I take a better look at what’s going on – and I find out. The self-absorbed hipster has stuck his foot out to block the door, allowing the second girl a safe pass through.

What fascinates me is that the guy does not move at all. Still just nodding his head to the rhythm of the music, staring at the display of his phone. Just when the girl passes through the door, he moves his foot away to allow the door to slide close.

The Japanese girls probably didn’t even notice that there was something going on – and he didn’t make any effort to let them know. Even after the door closes, he doesn’t look up to get a single wink of appreciation from the crowd.

I’m sure that in his thoughts, marching to the rhythm of the beat, he’s smiling.

On the outside though – his face is unchanged. A self absorbed hipster indeed.

But an anonymous hero on top of that.

 


Featured image by Lovro Rumiha, taken from Flickr, under Creative Commons license. Colors adjusted.

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