Friday, July 27, 2007

Another take on internalization

Here's a little somethin'-somethin' that relates to my previous post.

I was on Manhattan's Upper West Side on Friday, crossing Broadway at 79th Street to get to the uptown No. 1 subway.
Three-quarters of the way across the street, I saw this elderly but spry blind man in front of me about to walk into a trash can, though his white cane probably would have forewarned him of the obstacle.

I'm in the habit of asking vision-impaired people if I can help them across the street before I do anything as presumptuous as taking their arm.
This case was no different.

"May I help you cross the street?" I asked.
"There are 14 goddamned steps across Broadway," the man said in an angry voice loud enough to catch the attention of people within a 30-foot radius. For all they knew, I was trying to pick his pocket, such was his reaction.

"I'm just trying to be friendly," I said. "I didn't mean any harm."
He said a bunch of other stuff I can't remember, called me a moron and repeated that "there are 14 goddamned steps across Broadway."
"How the hell are you going to help me?" he said as we reached the opposite sidewalk.
By this time, there must've been about 15 or more people witness to all this, staring at me as if I had accosted the man.
"Hey, sorry, I'm just trying to be helpful," I said, not raising my voice. "Have a nice day."
"Next time don't be so goddamn insincere," he shouted at my back, which by this time I had turned on him.

***

To get to my car, I had to cross 95th Street, which is about as wide as Broadway is at 79th.
The man was absolutely right: It took me exactly14 steps.

7 comments:

Mungo said...

What if instead you had initially asked him for help across the road! Wonder what his reaction would have been then...
:-)
Cheers
Mungo

Michael said...

I literally could taste this old man's bitterness. A cautionary tale if ever there was one.

east village idiot said...

It may have taken him 14 steps to cross the street but it took him one step to be a fucking asshole.

Even blind people can be jerks.

Michael said...

Yes, yes ...

I was about to scream back at him, but then I saw how painfully, tragically bitter and hateful he was at the world for his problems. And I thought, yeah, this experience cost me a few moments of embarrassment, but this guy has to live with himself and his hatreds the rest of his life.

Matt K. said...

Well spoken. I've seen that brand of bitter before, and it's never pretty. I strive to be anything but that as I age.

forman said...

Me and my father were walking west in the Gramercy area recently when a blind man with a cain asked my dad something quick and un-intelligable.

turned out he was asking what the next avenue was. he asked a little bitterly as if we should've understood the first time.

my dad replied "the next avenue is park avenue."

and a little later my dad turned around and shouted for him to go "a little to the left." he seemed to be walking into a bush.

he shouted back a "thank you"

I always thought never to help the blind, because they may want to take charge of their situation. but this situation makes me see, that some really do want help and aren't afraid to ask or demand it.

by the way. i thought your previous post was wonderful. i'd like to say more, but briefly, i'll say that expression is what i come to the internet for, to obtain all that is missing in the day to day. as odd as it seems. if i look hard enough i can find a nice blog post, like yours where your guard has been let down and you opened yourself for public introspection. it's late i hope that didn't sound ridiculous.

Michael said...

A heartfelt thanks for your comments, Forman.I really appreciate them.