Thursday, 10 July 2008

When I am old

It's freezing here this week!

Ok, it's not actually freezing - I am in Sydney after all - but it's jolly cold. It got below 10C at night this week and isn't quite getting to 20C during the day. The wind goes right through me and my really warm clothes are. still. in. storage! Aaargh! We should have our hands on our stored gear in a just a few weeks so I refuse to go and buy a new wool coat, but it sure is tempting.

This morning I layered up with a vest, woolly polo neck and fleece jacket for my walk to work. It was a clear breezy morning and I was enjoying the sunshine as I climbed the long rise onto the Anzac Bridge. As I got to the middle of the bridge I noticed an old man walking on the wrong side of the path (bikes and pedestrians use the keep-left rule). "Bloody tourists" I thought.

As I got closer I realised that he wasn't walking as much as, well, staggering. And his shirt was unbuttoned and flapping in the breeze so that his substantial torso was bare (remember it's freezing). The walkers and cyclists passing the man were all glancing back at him in consternation and I was terrified that not only his shirt was going to be unbuttoned when I reached him! I drew level, carefully looking straight ahead, and when I was past I looked back - luckily his pants appeared to be in place but the man really wasn't looking well. He looked confused, distressed, and on the point of collapse.

What to do? I didn't want to go near him - he scared me. What if he attacked me or abused me or collapsed and I had to - ew - resuscitate him? What if he made me late for work? Everyone else seemed to be thinking the same thing... but then I saw one of my fellow walkers pull out his phone and make a call while keeping an eye on the old man. I could hear him talking to the emergency services which was a relief, although it troubled me that even the man calling for help didn't stop walking.

I don't know what happened to the old man because I walked away. We all walked away. We left him half dressed and in distress in the middle of a high bridge with 6 lanes of traffic roaring past.

I feel bad. What if it had been my Dad? I should have stopped.

When I am old and I'm in trouble I hope the young suits on their way to work will stop and talk to me. And in return I'll try to remember not to attack them!

No comments: