Wednesday, August 20, 2008

five minutes in the city.

there is a man, sleeping? passed out? dead? no, he's breathing. he's on the sidewalk, and when i tried to talk to him, i got no response at all. i thought i should let him sleep it off, and i didn't want him to get in trouble, and i didn't want to get involved, but i called a friend for advice and realized that calling 911 was the best thing to do. i would have felt terrible if he was in real trouble and i saw him but didn't get him any help. (i hate that i couldn't kneel down beside him and try to wake him gently, the way you do with someone you love, but i was afraid.)

i called and explained what i had seen, and then answered a list of questions they were required to ask me (no, he didn't say anything to me. he's unconscious. no, he is not standing. he's unconscious. no, he's not sitting up. he's unconscious.) and went downstairs again to wait for the firetruck.

although he didn't move a muscle when i was trying to talk to him, the firefighters are more aggressive than i had been. one of them starts to talk to him, and wakes up.

firefighter: "see, the problem is that you're sleeping here and the neighbors are concerned about you. if you can't get up and show me that you can walk, i'm going to have to call an ambulance to take you away. can you show me that you can get up?"
man: (pointing at "no parking" sign above where he's lying) "what does that sign say?"
firefighter: (without missing a beat) "no parking and no sleeping."
man: (slowly starting to get up) "heeeyyy...are you bisexual?"
firefighter: "i sure am. you getting up?"
man: "huh. i am too."

the man starts to walk away, a little unsteadily.

other firefighter: (kind of concerned) "hey, did you counsel him?"
firefighter: "oh, i counseled him."


Sakkis said...

This is by far, the funniest thing I have encountered today....but it's only 9:57 and I have high hopes for this afternoon

sarah said...

it was really kind of bizarre. i was relieved that they guy was okay-ish, and kind of worried about him since he was obviously not in the best of shape, and the firefighters sent him off down a main oakland street.

and it made me think a lot about our society in general and the major gaps in our social services networks. and it made me sad.

and then i went and rode my bike.