From my journal yesterday:
11/16/2009 3:30pm Seattle, WA
A man collapsed on the street in front of me and proceeded to crawl across four lanes of downtown traffic on all fours, against the light. I am ashamed, firstly that my initial reaction was to scoff, and secondly that nobody even batted an eyelash, including the person who writes these words.
I hesitated, turning off my Ipod. "Do you need help?" I asked to the top of the man's head. He squinted up at me through the rain, his face a weather-beaten mess despite, I would guess, an age of less than fifty. He wore woollen socks pulled up to mid-calf over his pants, almost like an ancient mountaineer. Perhaps he was.
"Someone stole my wheelchair." he yelled over the din of the downtown city rain, while handing me his arm. "Someone stole my wheelchair over by Union last night." he repeated as I helped him into a hunched half-standing half-kneeling position.
"God." I whispered "I'm sorry. Can I..." I stopped, not knowing exactly what it was I could do for the man.
As if to ease my plight, he pointed to a nearby lamp-post and said "I just need something to lean on."
I led him to the lamp-post and let him go. I stood for a second and then I walked away. I had places to be. I never looked him in the eye.
On all fours humanity crosses a downtown city street
Cowering beneath the cold November rain as leaves and garbage run rivulets into swelling sewers.
Passing glances of mere curiosity or scoffing jeers of utter indifference as daily business must roll on.
Time seems to slow as humanity crawls towards oblivion.
But traffic is light.
With monstrous effort, he hauls himself to safety, leaning prostrate.
As the rain continues.
Falling on blind eyes.