2004-11-24 - 9:37 p.m.
Tonight was a hectic evening of last-minute shopping for tomorrow's Thanksgiving. As I was finishing my errands in Forest Hills, I watched a man slip and fall on the sidewalk. He didn't get up.
I ran across the street to see him there. He was clearly very ill - mentally ill, with a little drop of saliva coming off his chin.
He said, "I don't feel so good. I can't move my leg." And then went babbling on like a child. "Can I watch March of the Wooden Soldiers tonight?"
He looked like he was in very bad shape, and certainly not right in the head. I called an ambulance from 911, and then I sat and with him. I put my backpack under his head and just listened to him for a little while. His father was from Lithuania. He grew up on Brooklyn and now lived on Staten Island. He has blood clots in his legs and so they don't work so well, and so he falls down a lot. He doesn't know where his wallet went. He was so disoriented, it was very sad. Clearly he was drunk, but the discourse sounded more like Alzheimers. I kept touching his shoulder and just listening and talking to him, and telling all the passersby that we didn't need help, I'd called an ambulance. I told him my name - and read his off the hospital arm band on his wrist.
The police came, followed shortly by the ambulance. The medic slipped a sterile blue latex glove on his hand before reaching for the arm band on James' wrist. And then the policeman sent me away: "a drunk - we'll deal with him - thank you, lady."
"umm..that's my backpack under his head..."
"James! let's try to sit up so this lady can get her backpack and go home!"
The policeman helped me retrieve it - "we see guys like this all the time - don't worry, he'll sleep it off in a hospital, which is better than being on the street for Thanksgiving."
As I was brushed aside, I carefully touched his shoulder and said, "Goodbye James, and take care." I meant it. I walked away with tears in my eyes.
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...they are just words, Suzi... - 2011-08-29