Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Charlie Gordon moment

Driving to my local support meeting last night. Not a cloud in the sky, perfect weather, it is actually getting cooler.

I took the back roads to the hospital, where we meet, because if I take the main road through my town I have to drive through the main street of the town, and this town is famous for jay walkers. I am always sick to my stomach thinking I am going to hit one. I've never hit anything in my car, but I once had a bird fly into my windshield and flop on my hood, dead. It had me in tears the rest of the day.

Everything was lovely, I was getting in mode to lead the meeting, something I hadn't done in months. I was going down Hamilton Ave and I hit the light by the fire dept. Ok no big deal. There is a pedestrian crossing there, and a very tall, scarecrow thin man in filthy tattered clothes walked across the street. I hardly noticed him. He walked past the silver SUV in front of me, to the middle of the road, (three lane highway with large shoulders), towards the other sidewalk, then he turned back around, heading back to the SUV and fell as the light turned green. At first I thought the SUV hit the man, but no, he was several feet away from it's passenger side tire.

He just lay in the road, like a broken doll. After a moment, realizing he couldn't get up, I put on the blinkers, went to the shoulder. The SUV in front of me moved to the shoulder. I pulled my cell out of my handbag and called 911. Then I went out of my car and saw several people had already gone over to him. I had my cell in my hand and the man in the red car on the opposite lane, the first car at the light yelled to me he too had called 911. We then had the people behind us move to the shoulder so the ambulances and police cars could have the road to themselves.

I walked over to the gentleman because I am Red Cross trained in CPR. I wasn't needed, since this was 3 blocks from the hospital, there was a nurse in one of the cars who was with him. I could smell the alcohol on the man from 5 feet away, mixing in with the smell of dirty clothes and BO.

And while I waited for the ambulance and police cars to arrive, I called a dear friend who I consider to be the older sister I never had, even though she is only 2 weeks older than I.

I told her about the accident and started to laugh. I didn't realize I was making fun out of this poor guy. Yes he was drunk, and fell down, but this was my evil side. Yes I was having what I refer to as a Charlie Gordon moment.
Charlie Gordon, the protagonist in the book "Flowers for Algernon". In one scene in the book, when he is a genius, he goes out to eat, and sees a bus boy drop a tray full of dishes. Everyone laughs at the poor guy, including Charlie.
Then Charlie realizes the poor kid thinks they are laughing with him, not at him, as the kid turns to the diners and smiles. He realizes it wasn't that long ago he was in the same place.

It might have been years since I was a fallling down drunk, and I forgot.
Even though I never drank in public once I left college, that still could have been me. Unkempt, poor hygiene, falling down drunk in my apartment.

I should never have laughed. I hope the ambulance sends him to the hospital, where they can pump him full of fluids and hydrate him, give him a good meal and help.

But I know one other thing I left out. The guy was clearly illegal so he won't get into the rehab hospital, unless it is at state expense and I seriously doubt they will put him in there.

I gave my statement to the police officer who basically told me they would do all they could to help him, but he seemed tired and uncomfortable in the heat wearing his uniform. It was a long hot day.

I hope the man got help.

And I thank him, who ever he is, for grounding me again.By forgetting my past, I cannot have a future.

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