Monday, June 12, 2006
monday morning collusion
This morning I was waiting for the streetcar when a blind man trying to cross the street headed straight for a cluster of newspaper boxes. I waited until the last second, hoping he would figure things out.
"Sir", I said, walking toward him. "Excuse me sir, can I help you to get to the sidewalk? There are newspaper boxes in your path."
"I'm trying to take the streetcar west to Spadina."
"Ok, you're in the right area", I told him.
"Don't interrupt me! I wasn't finished! I'm blind and I'm HARD OF HEARING!!!" I jumped back to avoid his flailing arms.
In addition to his physical disabilties, this man, who looked dishevled, even dirty, was probably mentally ill and in all liklihood, homeless. The crowd of people at the streetcar stop looked on. I could feel the heat rise in my cheeks. Just then the streetcar came around the corner and stopped. People began to pile on.
He was standing on the busy street now. I couldn't leave him. "Sir? The streetcar is here."
I repeated my self clearly with feigned authority, "I said the streetcar is here! Take my arm and I'll walk you there."
I stretched my arm toward him nervously as if to pet an unpredictable dog. At this point he was standing in the middle of the street. I couldn't tell if he heard me. The last few people were getting on the streetcar and I knew if I didn't hurry, I'd miss it myself.
I caught the streetcar driver's eye and signalled to him to wait just a second. He nodded.
"Sir, the streetcar is here! Take my arm and I'll walk you over."
He started to yell and flail again. I looked back at the driver, backing away with my palms facing up. "I don't know what to do."
I couldn't just leave him in the street. The driver rang the bell. The man stopped yelling and turned in the direction of the sound. He shuffled a couple of steps in that direction, but stopped again, looking confused.
Great, I thought to myself. Now what the fuck am I going to do? Just then, a man appeared next to him and took him by the arm.
"Come on," he said. "I'm taking you to the streetcar."
I turned and ran up the steps, glad someone else had stepped in. Everyone on the streetcar looked at me sympathetically.
"At least you tried", one girl about my age offered.
"I'M BLIND AND HARD OF HEARING!!!" I could hear the man screaming at the front of the car. "I used to be a sprinter. I used to be able to run an 8-minute mile!"
Someone tried to offer their seat.
"I'M BLIND AND HARD OF HEARING!!! DON'T TALK TO ME!!! The woman I was married to for 30 years committed suicide!"
"Enough, we don't need to hear this." A woman sitting behind me said aloud to no one in particular." I looked back to see who had said that. The woman smirked, trying to catch my eye for collusion. I turned away.
I got off at my stop and walked across the street. My hands were still shaking and I was tired. And to think, this was only monday morning.
Posted by Rachel at 10:13 PM