21 May 2009

The Jacket

My previous post honored the memory of my late grandmother through a recipe of hers. A few days back I very briefly met someone who honored the memory of someone close to her through a jacket.

It happened on my way to work. I have a long commute to work, train first and then tram the last stretch. As I was waiting at the tram stop one morning, I noticed a woman wearing a suede leather jacket. It seemed old and out of fashion, and I was thinking she probably got it from the Salvation Army outlet. My first impression of the lady was that she was someone without a lot of money, living a hard life.

Then I noticed that the price tag, which was hanging in a string on her back. It was still attached to the jacket, like it would be if the jacket was hanging in a store. I also noticed that the tag was really old. Both the plastic pocket holding the tag, and the tag itself, had turned yellowish. I was a bit puzzled by this, but didn’t think more of it. I was thinking I should tell her about the tag, but before I got to it the tram arrived.

We both got on the same tram, she went onboard before me. It was a bit full, and I ended up sitting down next to her. Now I finally got around to warning her about the tag on her back. I just expected a slightly embarrassed reply from her, and a thank you. But the reply surprised me.

She did say thank you, slightly embarrassed. But then, while tucking in the tag, she told me why the tag was there. She had inherited the jacket from her dad when he died. Her father had been so proud of this jacket that he didn’t want to take the tag off. When she inherited the jacket she kept the tag on as a way to honor the memory of her dad.

I totally didn’t see that coming. I just replied with an ok, not saying anything more during the trip. But it made me think. I thought about how we nowadays we throw away perfectly good clothes just because they’re out of fashion. I thought about what kind of relationship she had with her dad. It seemed like she missed him a lot. I thought about how easy it is to make snap judgments of people I know nothing about. And I thought about how many people I pass by every day on my commute, people with interesting stories, stories that I will never stop to listen too.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

very strange and moving story, thank you !
(NB : noborders, and not "nobody" !)

André Rakvåg said...

Aaah.. Silly mistake, corrected now :)

chiqui illenberger said...

2nd time I cried today.