Saturday, November 28, 2015

Commuters

My walk to work can sometimes be very strange. There was recently an article about the main streets I have to walk through to get to my train station, which, more specifically include 125th street and the walk between 1st and Lexington Ave. It’s not the worst walk in the world, being just at about a mile from my place, but the stretch between 2nd and Lexington on 125th has been offputting for about a year now.

It noticed one night when I was walking home, people who were just entirely spaced out on the street. I noticed one guy who was standing, drooling and half asleep. My first thinking was that this must be heroin, as that is what it looked like to me. Apparently it’s not heroin, per say, though that is also a possibility in this area. It’s more likely that it is people using some sort of synthetic pot that has become very popular lately with the cheap drug crowd. It’s cheap, and like meth can be mixed from household chemicals. Good times.

This means that sometimes on my walk to work I see really strange things. Sometimes these things are disturbing, like the zombie people falling off park benches, lying against the sidewalk, all fucked out of their mind on some messed up drug. It tries my compassion to walk by this every day, but I have the awareness that there really is nothing I can do, which is an important knowing. There comes a point where one has to realize that there aren’t words, nothing to say, nothing to do, to make things better or improve another person’s life. You just have to keep walking.

And so I do. I keep walking no matter what I see. There are nights when it’s too much to walk and I might skip it and take a cab, but most of the time I walk. I walk right through it, knowing what I’m signing up for as I navigate the streets and the alleys.

On my walk this morning I come towards the corner of 2nd and 125th street, where I turn to head towards the train I need to catch. As I am approaching, I see a dollar bill stuck on the edge of the sidewalk, somehow on the curb but not being blown away. The sort of things you can’t avoid, I walk up to it and pick up the dollar, thinking to myself I don’t need it.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a homeless man walking towards me, he is shuffling, moving slow. I think he may have seen the dollar. The reality is that of the two of us, he is more need of the money. I turn towards him, extending my hand, the dollar in my outstretched fingers. He smiles, toothless at me, and reaches out his hand to take the dollar. Clearly grateful for the kindness. As he reaches towards me he grasps the dollar in his knuckles, his fingers stopping at the knuckles making his hand look like a paw. He nods his head at me and shuffles on.

I turn back to my walk. It’s getting colder in New York and as I walk I wonder about this man, how he lost his fingers and teeth, how he came to live on the streets. I wonder how he will get through winter.

I wonder if I will see him again on my early morning walk to work on some future state.

My feet keep pounding the sidewalk, I keep walking through the oddity of it all, watching the mysteries that are unfolded before me, leaving me only occasionally with answer, but always with more questions and more mysteries to be explored.

No comments: