Disarranging Mine: A Journal
Sunday :: July 7, 2002 ::: 5:52 p.m.
This was pretty much a wasted weekend. Which is just fine.
Dawn has some beautiful photos from the Chicago Botanical Gardens. I really miss Chicago -- sometimes.
From the People Laying on the Sidewalk Department. My first encounter with someone laying on the sidewalk was in Chicago in the summer of 1981.
I was walking on the north side of Fullerton just west Southport. At that time there was a fine Italian restaurant that served excellent Northern Italian cuisine on that block. They had singing waiters and lots of fish dishes on the menu.
It was a warm sunny evening about 7:00 p.m. and I was on my way to the restaurant to meet a friend for dinner. About 50 feet from the corner, laying sprawled facedown in the middle of the sidewalk, was a one-legged man. I had noticed him before, hobbling around the neighborhood on one crutch. He was quite dirty and his crutch, which was laying next to him, wasn't in very good shape. My first inclination was that he had dropped dead from the heat or dehydration or something. My next inclination was that he had been hit by a car and thrown to the sidewalk.
I looked around, desperate for a pay phone, but there was none. I considered running back to my apartment, which was less than two blocks away, but ruled that out as taking too long in case by some chance the one-legged man might still be alive. Across the street was a Burger King, but I already knew it didn't have a pay phone. Next to the BK was a little pool hall which I had never been inside. The pool hall looked like it would be more inclined to let me use their phone if they didn't have a pay phone on the premises.
There were four pool tables, only one of which was occupied. The two old men at the table stopped playing and gawked at me as I burst in the door. I asked them where phone was. They pointed to a counter at the back of the room. The pool hall keeper was behind the counter smoking a cigar. Before I could ask him if I could use his phone, he already set it up on the counter. It was an old black rotary with a metal dial. I dialed 911, gave them my name, the location, and told them there was an injured man on the sidewalk. I figured if I told them he was dead they would be less inclined to hurry.
The beatcop arrived in about three minutes. During that three minutes several people walked by on the sidewalk. I was stunned that none of them stopped to offer help. The beatcop asked me if I was the one who called. Then he picked up the one-legged man's crutch and began to poke him in the side with it. After several pokes, the one-legged man rousted. The cop helped the man to a sitting position. Then the cop radioed for a paddy wagon.
I asked the cop if he was going to take the man to the hospital. The cop replied that the man was going to the tank. Tank? Yeah, the drunk tank. Ahh.
It never occurred to me that the one-legged man was passed out from drunkenness.
After I finally made my way to the restaurant, I recounted the entire episode to my waiting friend. Katherine, who had lived in Chicago for most of her life quickly pointed out to me that after almost two years of living in the city, I was still extremely naive.
My next experience with someone laying on the sidewalk wasn't actually a sidewalk. It was the subway platform at Division and Clark. My best friend, Lyn and I had met up at State and Division for an after work drink.
After one drink, we decided to head back to my apartment. It was about 6:00 p.m. and the subway was still very crowded. It didn't take long to realize the train was late. Not that it ever really ran on a regular schedule, mind you. We decided to make our way to the end of the platform in the hopes we might actually get a seat on one of the cars. We noticed some vacant benches past the little engineering room near the end of the platform where we could sit and wait.
As we made our way past the little engineering room we noticed a man sprawled facedown on the concrete. Not knowing if he was dead or alive, and feeling a little brave since my friend was there with me, I decided to see if I could help him. As I bent down to shake his shoulder I noticed cash spilling out of one of his coat pockets. It looked to be about six hundred dollars. Wow! "Lyn, look at this," I said as I pointed to the money. As Lyn bent down to look, we heard a voice. It was coming from the little engineering room. The voice commanded,"police! Stay away from that man." The two of us immediately backed away, clutching each other.
Obviously, we had stumbled upon some kind of police sting operation. But a sting for what? We never knew.
Now-a-days, if I come upon someone laying on the sidewalk, I still try to help.
Situation status with this journal.
Oh well. I really do kinda like the way I've got thing set up here. So, I'll just leave my grandiose ideas on the back burner for another time.
Best thing about my job. I get to wear jeans any time I want and there's very little in-person client contact. And this week ... drum roll ... the head is on vacation.