An Invisible Observer

The following describes a scene from my volunteering days at a local hospital. As I sat waiting for a family member to come back from seeing her loved one, I was able to quietly observe. It was during that time that I was able to see a mundane hallway come to life with its own unique atmosphere, one that can be seen as a metaphor of the ebbs and flow of daily life:

“The skyway was bathed in the mid-afternoon sunlight; the patterns of the spotless floor were punctuated with the golden outlines from the large window panes. I sat alone on a ledge, an invisible observer.

About fifteen paces away, a new arrival, a man, was looking out the window. His white lab coat was neatly pressed and his brown face was furrowed as he focused his gaze across the urban landscape. Speaking intermittently into a utilitarian silver cell phone, his voice emanated a tone of understanding and empathy. When he paused, he would cock his head slightly, as if the slight change in angle would be conducive for listening to his conversational partner. As he stood, silhouetted in the rays of light, the man projected the image of quiet confidence.

I closed my eyes, blocking out all visual sensation. Only the soft hum of fluorescent lights punctuated with the soft staccatos of padded footsteps would punctuate the serene silence. I became unaware of the passage of time. Then, somewhere in the distance, the ringing of an elevator signaled its arrival to the second floor. A pneumatic hiss accompanied a whooshing sound as a pair of automatic doors opened. Now there were multiple footsteps and harsher chatter.

I opened my eyes. The man in the white lab coat was slipping his cell phone into one of his deep pockets. Passing me, he turned and walked rapidly around a corner, disappearing into the labyrinth of passageways. Two dark shirted individuals walked past my line of vision; their boots thudding resoundingly against the hard floor and the wheels of the bed they were rolling squeaking in protest to their rapid strides. A small herd of people could be heard as they laughed and spoke rapidly, emerging from an unseen niche and traversing the skyway. Suddenly, a man still wearing a mask rushed past me, causing a turbulence of cool, scentless air. As his footsteps receded, only the click of an elderly lady’s cane could be heard. She ambled past before she too disappeared into the labyrinth. When the sound of her cane receded, the area became quiet once again.

The soft hum returned to the hallway. Unseen by countless eyes, I remained, an invisible observer.”