Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I Hope It's A Nice Handbasket
I realized today I am going to hell (and, no, this is not because I am in advertising. Or because I eat meat. Or because I am a Democrat. (or because I'm a fag).
I was on my way to work this morning, running late (what else is new), and worrying about the fact that I would probably have to ask for tomorrow off, when I saw this guy in a wheelchair. His destination seemed uncertain; it was possible he was addressing this woman on the sidewalk. Then, in a fumbling maneuver, he lodged his wheel in a sidewalk cut out (you know the ones they plant trees in), and completely tipped over his wheelchair!
I was unsure if he was inebreated or homeless, but I was concerned. I was also very aware that I was running late. I saw the woman move towards and I kept walking. Right past the both of them. Interiorly I felt I knot of conflicted emotions, mostly running heavy on guilt. But I was in a hurry! I turned back to see how bad the situation was (especially since I really wasn't sure if the woman could handle this bigger man) and saw a man rush out from the community center to help.
I sped up my pace and made it to the bus stop in time.I could see the bus approaching. I convinced myself the situation was under control and he would be fine.
As we are boarding the bus, suddenly there is wheelchair dude!! I am mortified. I thought he must hold me in the utmost contempt. I was also a little concerned, because he wasn't altogether lucid and as it is it is quite a process to quite a handicapped person on the bus. I thought, "How late is this going to make me?"
I know! I am awful!
While I warred internally between embarrassment, shame, chagrin, and impatience, apparently the wheelchair dude was turned away! He was instructed to wait for the next bus that could accommodate his wheelchair better (this mode of conveyance was an early 20th century German import trolley train with a very narrow aisle and bolted in wooden seats). The bus driver shouted that the next bus was right behind him. Wheelchair guy was cussing up a storm and wheeling his way to the wheelchair ramp to wait for the next bus. I could still hear him cussing as we drove away.
My first reaction was relief. Relief that I would not be too late, and also relief that I would not have to endure a bus ride in the vicinity of this reminder of my great ignominy. I was also shocked. At myself!
Who have I become? Am I just such a jaded urbanite? Am i so ego-centric? I was reminded of the scripture passage that says "that which ye do unto the least of these my brethren, ye do unto me." Did I just in essence leave Christ tipped over for other people to tend to him? In the parable of the good Samaritan, I would be one of the schmucks who left the guy to die by the side of the road!
That was when I realized I am going to hell.
This is not news that sits easy on you first thing in the morning on your way to work. I thought about what had changed about me. I don't know. I mean, i feel like I am genuinely kind to people around me, and that when I can, I do help people. I feel that I still have that same good heart as always, but this incidence left my heart larded in guilt. The only thing i can think of is committing to 50 hours of community service (minimum) to make an in-road to redemption.
So I decided. No more qualms, no more delaying. I will start searching for a volunteer opportunity this weekend, and once I finish my gig posing for this art class (in 10 days), I am going to volunteer again.
I only hope it is not too late to redeem my soul.
**No, that is not a picture of the actual site. It is just something I quickly found on Google to illustrate.