I recently gave up my car and switched to walking and public transport.
So I've been taking the subway for the first time in many, many years (enough to say "many" twice). It's fast and convenient and the whole thing has been going quite well until the other day.
I was running down one of the many sets of stairs (I forgot how far underground the subway is and how many stairs it takes to get down and back up) and there at the bottom laying on the floor was a homeless man. He was flat on his back, his eye lids twitching furiously with the white of his eyeballs in full view. He had a strong stench to him and I really couldn't tell if he was dying or just really stoned.
The amazing thing was that all the other people were just walking around him and heading on their way without even a pause or a concern for this man. Maybe I just wasn't use to seeing this type of thing but it seemed extremely odd that no one cared. I tried to make eye contact with a woman who had slowed down her pace but she just looked at him and then at me and walked away.
I ran over to the person in the ticket booth who could see the man in full view from his bullet proof encasing and pointed and asked through the speaker's circle thing - "Can you call an ambulance?" to which he shrugged and looked over at the man and said in French (I live in Quebec) "Il n'ya rien a faire" which in my best translation meant, "There is nothing to be done"and I replied back "There is something to be done. He needs help. He needs to be taken off of the floor."
I was waved away. So I ran up the next flight of stairs where my phone had some bars and was about to dial 911 when an ambulance pulled up at the red light. I ran outside and told the technicians that there was a man injured (I thought that would get them down there) in need of help. They pulled the ambulance up onto the sidewalk outside the metro station and they came down with me.
They stood over the man and then one of them put on his gloves and felt for a pulse. Then he looked up at me and said, "You'll have to call the police - this is a police matter" pointing to a pipe in the man's hand.
To which I replied, "Can't you help him? He isn't well. He needs a bed and some food and a shower."
Then they went ahead and called the police themselves and told me to go catch my train and they'd take care of the rest.
Now maybe I sound naive. I'm not. I've been through my share of experiences and I've felt pain and humiliation and I've cared for people with mental illness who struggle through a maze of obstacles and demons every day of their lives. However I don't find it acceptable for any human being to just walk by someone who is in a bad way and clearly in need of help. If that person was acting out in a violent manner, approaching others and in their space, that would be another matter but that was not the case in this situation.
I went to work and got into my "writing zone" and was able to shift my focus to the projects at hand but that night as I sat at the table in my dining room in the comfort of my home, I couldn't eat.
I wondered whose son that was - whose brother? uncle? friend? How did he end up like that? Had he been abused and turned to drugs or was he mentally ill having never received treatment or therapy or was he just a lost soul with a haunted past and a miserable fate?
But I'll never know his story and perhaps he doesn't really know himself.
I can go on and on about how as a society we care so little for those on the edge; those on the fringes and I'm not going to shout out "Let's save the world and humanity by making it a better place."
I'm just going to finish this post and the next time I'm in the subway and I see someone on the floor unconscious and rotting in their own stench, I'm going to stop and I'm going to call 911 and wait for them to come and do something, anything to improve this very sad situation.
I would want someone to do the same for me or anyone in my life whom I love.
Because we all have a loose wire, a crack in our foundation, an imperfection and a very thin line between what makes us who we are and allows us to carry on and what could one day break us into little pieces - one situation, one instance - and everything changes.
It's a matter of whether you have someone there to pick you up off the ground and see you through and while many of us do, many of us do not and those are the ones that we all have to remember.
Someone please - stop the madness!
Photo by Edu Carvalho
On second hand, you know what? I will stop the madness. That's right - I am officially offering myself up as a contestant on The Bachelor.
Here is what I am going to need:
- Licorice and lots of it - the long stringy kind - because that is what will be hanging out of my mouth the entire show - just to annoy the other contestants.
- My dog because I'm not going anywhere without him.
- A few tins of those mints that burn your tongue - let's face it, the battle is 80% breath - you can be absolutely stunning but if you have halitosis, he ain't gonna pick you.
Okay so my ulterior motive is to prove beyond any doubt that no woman is in need of The Bachelor to complete herself.
First I'm going to sit down all the ladies and say "Really, are you serious? If you want to meet a guy, join a gym, let your friends set you up, let your mother set you up, go onto E-Harmony or Match.com or GetmeLaid but please leave this mansion immediately and go back to wherever you came from."
And then I'm going to get into that hot tub that is spiraling in all of the germs from the past 10 seasons (I made that up - I have no idea how many seasons there have been but I do know there have been far too many) and I'll be wearing a bathing cap, board shorts and a t-shirt.
And right there in that tub, I'll inform the Bachelor that all of the other women have left the building and I am his only hope at ever having a fake marriage on TV.
Then we'll head back to our rooms and freshen up for that final, sunset scene on a dock by torchlight.
It will be dark and I will be tired, bloated and fed up so I'll trip and fall onto the dock but I'll get up. I always get back up!
The Bachelor will get down on one knee and ask me that ever looming, romantic, out of this world question:
"Can you take that licorice out of your mouth and lose the bathing cap?"
And forget about me saying "I do" because I am going to say "I don't."
There will be a an explosive and revealing reunion on Dr. Phil. He will yell at the Bachelor for taking women for granted and at me for not watching his show.
The audience will clap and say "Awwwww" in unison.
Then for the really exciting part - the end - Dr. Phil will take his wife by the hand and walk off stage and pretend to be talking to her about something (not that I would know any of this because I don't watch his show) and you'll wonder why Dr. Phil's wife has to get all dressed up for every show just to sit there and wait (while he yells at someone); so she can walk off stage with him.
Then TMZ will greet me at the airport or the gym or the pharmacy (where no one looks happy - have you ever seen anyone smiling in line at the Pharmacy?)
NO - because frankly, it's an exhausting experience. Everyone thinks everyone else has a cold or the flu or a headache so they are all trying to keep a distance.
Meanwhile, you are putting stuff in that little carry carriage - stuff that you don't need but you may need but you're not sure you need...
Then you finally get home and what you really need is a shower and a Tylenol (which you forgot to buy).
And for those of you still reading this (thanks Mom and No I don't want to be set up with that nice man you met in the elevator who bathes and has good benefits) and on behalf of all women, l'm standing up against the Bachelor and the whole premise of the series and saying "I don't and I never will."
As for Dr. Phil's wife, seriously, one show, just one time, don't show up and let him walk off stage by himself because you're better than that - we all are!
PS: Chris Harrison - get that hot tub cleaned - will ya?