"My name is Carl, and I'll take you anywhere you want to go."
I turn and see her--
hands bare from forward propelling chair on wheels, she
uses her one good leg to spin around and heave backwards through the crowd,
low voice calling out to passerby's--
"Watch out! Comin' Through!"
Dark skin stark against hard life,
wearing white, stained tee.
And I see her wince under the weight of Market Street:
the sound of cable cars and tourists,
as she narrowly misses the 49ers paraphernalia taking up
valuable sidewalk space.
And the crowd did all but part ways for her.
So still the struggle.
The hurried tourists skirt around her like they did the overturned
garbage can up the street.
Some rush back to work after a quick lunch,
preoccupied with living.
Others don't see--
so much destitution becomes normal.
Still, a few just don't care. Her business isn't their business.
Isn't my business.
Pang in the heart.
Then he says it again:
"I'll take you anywhere you want to go."
And the way he says it--it's like....like he means it.
I stare and see then that he does mean it.
And he hasn't asked it as a question.
They shuffle a bit with his load.
He asks if she minds holding his beer.
She holds his Italian leather briefcase and
his open bottle of anchor steam
against her stained pants,
and bandage-wrapped leg;
smiles grateful at the man who offers such mercy.
And his young voice calls out to her above the noise of 4th Street.
She is being asked her name.
She is being asked about her day.
Shiny patent shoes scrape against 80-grit and
sounds like the melody of mercy and
--on and on and on.
I can still hear her voice as they sail around the corner.
He: young, able, income-savvy.
She: old, unable, destitute.
Both: despite race, income, age, or even the proposed daily agenda--
joined for a moment; exchanging names.
And for just a time, her hardship is gone and she feels like a person worth getting to know better.
A Good Samaritan. For another, life laid down.
Carl walked a mile.
A mile which wasn't his.
And he made it his business.
Please visit Emily for more...