Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Let no good deed go unpunished

From a friend who lives in  Somerville MA
 
The absurdity of trying, and failing, to help a stranger:

On my way home this evening, I saw an elderly man with an arm in a sling and a cane, trying to push a shopping cart. When I offered to help, he said "Thank you, Thank you!" Little did I know, that was the only English he spoke.

So, I pushed his shopping cart and we shuffled along, about a block every 15 minutes. Where are you going?... "Thank you, Thank you." What is your address? "Thank you, Thank you." Looking him over, I guessed that he might speak Haitian Creole, so I called a friend to translate - and got her voice-mail. Frustrated, I hailed a Haitian-looking bus driver and asked if he spoke Creole. Yes! And he recognized this man! Rather than ask directly, he told me he knew which street the man lived on, which was 5 blocks on the other side of the Davis Square. So, I asked him to tell the man that I would get my car to drive him there and dashed home to get it. Five minutes later, I double-parked in the middle of traffic, while I assisted the man into my car (shuffle, shuffle) and put his shopping cart and groceries in my trunk. He looked wild-eyed at the car and me "Thank you, Thank you!" and I drove him through the square toward the street the bus driver had told me.

Halfway there, the old man looked around wild-eyed and shouted "Thank you, Thank you!" Uh, oh. Should I stop here? "Thank you, thank you!" So, I pulled into a parking space, unloaded the cart, groceries and old man (shuffle, shuffle). I pointed in one direction, Cameron Ave, and the man looked at me wild-eyed. I pointed in the other direction, Davis Square, "Thank you, Thank you!" Okay. So, I put 2 quarters in the meter (30 minutes) and pushed the cart towards Davis Square, from whence we had come, as the old man shuffled behind me. All the commuters on their way home, walked around the crazy lady with the shopping cart and the old man with a cane (shuffle, shuffle). Two blocks and thirty minutes later, we reached the Square. I pointed in one direction, College Ave, and the man looked at me wild-eyed. I pointed in the other direction, Davis Square, "Thank you, Thank you!" Another ten minutes and we are in the center of the square and he points down College Ave. Okay.

As we approached a cross-walk, I suggest that we cross here and he kept walking. A block later, he starts out into the middle of rush hour traffic. Okay. All traffic stops (shuffle, shuffle) as the crazy lady with the shopping cart and the old man take 10 minutes to cross the street. No-one honks their horn (Thank you!) and we enter the senior housing block right in Davis Square. THREE blocks from where I met him on one side of the square and THREE blocks from where I parked my car. I turned to him and smiled - "You are home! You live on College Ave!" He turned to me and said "Thank you, Thank you!" Then I turned and ran as fast as I could to my car, where my meter had expired, but I had no parking ticket.

Thank you, Thank you!

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