Do the Right Thing

Five days on, one day off, I go to the gym.  So long as I can stand, I go to the gym.  Notice I say “stand”.  I do not say “walk”.  Even I am on crutches, I go to the gym.  It’s a disease.  Actually, you want to be technical, it’s a disorder.

But this morning, I dawdled and dawdled.  I dreaded the three block walk because it is so cold outside.  I kept telling myself that every minute I delay is an opportunity for the temperature to rise another micro-degree.

Usually I guzzle my morning latte, emptying the glass while the brown beverage is still scalding.  But today, I protracted the ritual until the coffee was quite cold.

Likewise, I took my time reading the news, even stories of no interest.  Verily, I do not care at all whether Kaley Cuoco is now — or has ever been — a feminist.  But now I know.

Finally, there were no more excuses and it was time to go.  I trudged down the stairs and as soon as I descended the stoop, a homeless man asked me to drive his wheelchair to the Starbucks.

I did not hesitate.  A few blocks is a small thing to help someone in need.  I am not a saint.  I admit that the man’s presence was not pleasant.  He had not recently bathed.  His clothes were ragged, fllthy, and smelly.  He was slumped over, drooling, and I could hardly understand his words.

This man should not have been outside by himself this cold morning or any other morning, for that matter.  Of course, I could not fix society’s ills, but I could take him to the Starbucks.  And so I did not hesitate.

As soon as I tried to push, I realized this would not be an easy task.  The wheelchair was very old, it was very low tech.  I could barely make it budge.  No wonder he needed help.  Though I gave it my all, we made very little progress, not half a block.

Suddenly, he could hold himself upright no longer and he slipped out of the chair and onto the sidewalk.

I tried to help him up, back into the chair, but I could not lift him even an inch from the ground.  Fortunately, a kind gentleman rushed over to help and got him rearranged, seemingly no worse for the wear.

The homeless man said he was hungry.  We were right outside La Boulange and offered to buy him breakfast.  But the homeless man said he wanted to go to the Starbucks.  So we started to move down the street.

Then the homeless man cried out that he wanted to eat now, at La Boulange.  So we backtracked toward the entrance.  And again, the homeless man said he wanted to go to the Starbucks.  This cycle repeated several more times.

At last, the kind gentleman made an executive decision to take the homeless man to La Boulange and sent me to go about my business.  There really wasn’t any way for me to help.  I couldn’t even power the wheelchair.  I wanted to be respectful, I wanted to be kind, but my good intentions were of no consequence whatsoever.

So I turned and headed to the gym.  The homeless man called out to me, but I just kept limping down the avenue.  What else could I do?

© 2015 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

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