I Almost Went To Jail Today

It was watching that third train roll over my iPhone 6 that made me want to throw caution and the officers’ warnings to the wind and jump down those tracks to retrieve my phone. My first serious bout of mental resolve to do so was derailed as I watched a rat scurry only a few feet away from where my phone lay in three pieces: the front of the case, the back of the case and the iPhone itself with a jelly protective cover on it.

I got a late start to my morning. I woke up at 5:15 AM, only to crash again until 9:45. I am coming home from my husband’s diplomatic assignment to Bangladesh, and I am waiting to start training for a job I tested into a year ago. I make his breakfast and give him his lunch on his way out the door, but the rest of the day is up to me. Needless to say, I knew I could afford to sleep in a bit, since I am technically unemployed. My newfound obsession with watching the Golden State basketball game in the NBA Finals was no help.

With the extra free time, I have been taking dance class at Joy of Motion theatre in the daytime and working toward testing in Arabic with my Tunisian language mentor from the Foreign Service Institute.

Today, I had planned to do those things, but my sleepiness derailed me. I jumped out of bed, late and sad I was going to miss Afro Jazz, but I felt determined to press on to the studio. I would find some other class like Zumba or Barre to take to satisfy my urge to move in ways that has been uncommon or nonexistent in my life in Bangladesh. Besides, there was a store nearby that my husband asked me to stop by for him, and I could at least keep my word on that.
So, when I tried to transfer at Chinatown, holding my messenger bag, my water bottle, my husband’s exchange item for the store and the article I was translating from English to Arabic, something had to give. As the door of the train opened, I heard an object drop, then saw it hit my sneakers and fall perfectly through the gap between the train and the platform into the abyss. I was hoping it was my water bottle.

Obviously, I couldn’t get on the train and leave my expensive and necessary smart phone in the station. I couldn’t physically see it then, but I believed it might still be recoverable. I was blessed that officers were on the train platform to help with the single tracking, so I waved one of them down. They told me then that a Metro station manager would have to get it as they were unable to retrieve it. Just for clarification, I asked them, if perchance I somehow miraculously recovered the phone on my own, would that be cause for arrest? They assured me it was, but I had to ask a second officer just to confirm. Note to self: always commit a questionable action first, then act deliriously oblivious to the illegality when caught. (Only joking.)

I tried to remain composed but vigilant as I waited on the supervisor to rescue my phone. I stood on the edge looking at my phone, patiently waiting as new trains rolled in and people entered and exited the platform. After about 35 minutes, I felt the anxiety welling up in me. I thought sitting down to do some translating might help, but the heat was roaring up my throat and into my eyes. I was helpless. My phone was right there, in my sight and even though I had on fitness clothes and tennis shoes, I couldn’t just jump down and go get it. I thought I did enough arm planks in the past to pull myself up again, if need be. I had ample time to analyze all these things and even tie knots in the scarf around my neck, which I considered lowering in to at least get part of the case while I waited.

One of the officers, a black man, saw my flood gates filling and he tried to comfort me by giving me the same status update I had received 30 minutes ago. He at one point suggested I give my contact number and pick up the phone at a designated point. I reassured him that leaving was not an option.

I started blaming myself. Had I done my Arabic earlier or got up earlier or left for dance on time, none of this would have happened. I thought about how I had a government job, at least at some point, and I would probably embarrass myself and my husband if I was handcuffed on the Metro platform in one of the busiest stations in the nation’s capital for taking matters into my own hands. Did I really come this far to go out like that?
And then my hero with the long metal claw came. He got two pieces of my case out before another train rolled in. We paused for the dance of public transportation to roll on, then reassumed our position at the edge of the platform. When he finally got it out, one South Asian stranger applauded. I thanked him for his moral support. And the supervisor disappeared into the crowd. I don’t remember if I even thanked him vigorously enough. After my near tearful explosion, I was ashamed to even address the black officer. I managed to tell the first one I called over when I dropped the phone thank you. I squeezed on a train that was full to capacity and stifled a wave to the black officer that was directing he crowd. I touched his shoulder, but he never turned around. The doors were closing. I had to move on to the next station.

To my surprise, my phone never even turned off. It was in perfect working order. I went on with my day, missing dance class, but having a very successful Arabic session. I even found the item for my husband. When I came home, I got an email with my official job offer for August.
Cheers to overcoming!

Kindall Sunshine Hayes

Kindall Sunshine Hayes spent the majority of her life chiefly concerned about herself. As the youngest of four children, she struggled with self-absorption and all of the ills that come with it: fear, perfectionism, neediness, and pride. She often found her family telling her that she should be more considerate of others, or that every situation was not about her. It was only after getting married and moving to the other side of the world that Kindall came face to face with her own insecurities and the damage it did to herself and others. For the two years that she accompanied her husband on a diplomatic assignment to Bangladesh, she remained silent about her new experiences living as an expat and visiting more than 20 different countries. She abandoned writing, journaling and all forms of social media, relying on her husband and friends to keep her family informed on her wellbeing. Living abroad and in a different time zone made her feel entitled to personal privacy. In her last few months in South Asia, after growing in her job, as a helpmate, and a world traveler, God convicted her to come out of silence with this scripture: "You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God...” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬. Through this personal account and with God's power, Kindall will attempt to do something that all youngest children hate to do: share.

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