Note: this is part of a series of posts first written in my previous blog, now shut down.
(Original posting titled “Redefining My Status” – written 8/25/2011)
I did what I did, but would never do it again. This is why sometimes I dread dealing with the humans.
So I am heading to the grocery store one Sunday morning, which used to play 80′s music all the time and now sucks for many reasons (the store, not Sunday mornings), most of which are the fact that they don’t play 80′s music any more. But that helps.
There are a lot of old people around the co-op/apartment complexes I live usually, so an oldster sighting is not not common. There was one in particular shuffling by, but this was different. She was calling out “help! Help! Somebody please help me,” while holding her arms out in front of her as though her cane or walker was missing, and she was a step from falling. So me being part Superman, man of steel (I have some tight glutes) and because that void of the other part of me doesn’t want to be stagmatized with the status of “That dick who walked past an old lady who was crying out for help” by anyone who might be watching from their car or spy satellite, I detour my way to the path she is heading down.
As I caught up to her, I asked if she needed any help. She turned, grabbed my arm, and relayed her situation; she had to get to the building, which was about 30 feet away. Seeing as she was standing out there in the hot sun, I offer to walk her to the front door. She confesses to me that she’s old, and I appreciate the recon info – a passing thought wondered how many Bothans died getting that data. She’s rushing along and I tell her to take her time, and that we would walk up the ramp. She protested this, and proceeded to tell me that no, she needed to go to the corner, to catch a taxi/bus. I have the sudden creeping feeling this is not going to end well, as the bus stop is several blocks away and I pray to Jor-El that she meant an Access a Ride.
As I tell her that no taxi is around and that she would be better going home and calling them again, she gets agitated, refutes my illogical idea, and starts calling out for help again, but with me firmly in grip, making my status “Hoodlum/perhaps geriatric perv who (slowly) kidnaps old ladies”. Considering that people might actually be watching from their windows, which they do a lot of, I’m thinking of what aisle of the store I would be down already, listening to Ke$ha or something equally as dicksandpapering– and speaking of aisles, down this next path are benches! I suggest that we sit on the shaded benches and wait for this taxi, which she swears is here for her (the driver went into the building through the basement somehow and missed her).
She agrees, and my chances of being arrested for grannynapping are slightly reduced. I get her to the benches and reassure her that the taxi will be by soon. She feels better about this and so do I.
So I tell her that I have to go.
“You can’t leave me here! Help Help! Somebody help!”
So now I am “the dick who leaves old ladies on benches on hot days, even though I left her on a shady bench,” or better yet “guys who robs old ladies and then leaves them on a shady bench”. At this point, I’m willing to take that, since it’s at least a step up from “worthless son/daughter who doesn’t ensure that their elderly mother is properly attended, because that would be an expense and really they are just waiting for the parent to die so they can sell their house/condo/co-op”, which are a dime a dozen in this borough believe me. Fuckin’ believe me. Those people are in fact trumped by their very elders who are of the “I know you want the house and money and whatever else you think you deserve so I will stay alive just to spite you, you ungrateful bastard(s)”, which is why I kind of like the elderly around here, and come to their rescue when they stand around screaming for help.
So I look around and there are a few people around, incredibly, they are elderly as well. One of them is someone I recognize; “lady who walks around with an oxygen tank, and whose daughter smokes when taking walks with her mother, which would be really fucked up, except that the mother goes for her evening walks alone sometimes and hides behind parked buses/vans, unhooks the oxygen tank, and lights up a cigarette, so really big fucking deal.” Since I know her by this which practically makes us clan, I ask her in my suave, educated way “‘scuse me, do you know this lady? She needs help…or something.” The lady looks at me, and then to the woman and decides that she knew how to ask the questions, and the old lady seemed more relaxed. It’s a peer thing; maybe only a nurse would be the only type of person to know how to handle it.
So as they talk, the bubble is now around them and I, like a greased up ninja, slink away on my journey to the store.
To say that I would not approach a situation like this, I do not think that it should be criticized. There’s more to any deed than just being a good citizen; it’s about being capable of handling the situation – something I clearly could not do. While calling 911 or flagging down a police car might also seem heavy handed, I also clearly had no idea what the fuck to do with this lady. Being that it was the middle of the day, the bat signal would not have been effective either.
You know what they say – leave it to the superheros. I can imagine only the caped crusaders’ local 321 says that. Well, now I do too.