Two days ago I was driving up to a posh gated neighborhood to drop off one of Bella’s friends. The road leads up to a neighborhood where the houses are $700,000 to at least a million, easy.
I was stopped by a surprising sight.
A thin, old, distinctly Indian man was in the middle of the street waving his white, taped cane. “I am disabled! Please stop!” he shouted. He alternately waved the cane wildly in the air and hit the ground in front of him with it.
And although he looked homeless, and I was cringing inside my skin, what could I do but stop? The guy looked to be in his eighties and he was at the bottom of a long hill – I figured I could at least give him a lift up the hill.
I stopped – but since he was in the middle of the street, I was also in the middle of the road. And cars immediately began to pile up behind me. The man started shouting, “THANK YOU FOR STOPPING! I AM AN OLD MAN! I AM FROM BOMBAY, INDIA!” At the same time he was thrusting his cane and floppy leather satchel at me to hold. He could not get himself into my compact little Hyundai. I was starting to perspire – not only was the weather hot, but I could see the waiting SUVs behind me, my baby Christian was howling, and I caught a glimpse of the horrified expression on Bella’s friends’ face in the rearview mirror. Finally, he squeezed himself into the passenger seat by grabbing his knee and slowly easing himself in, one leg at a time.
He never stopped his shouting, which I assume was because of his deafness,” THANK YOU FOR STOPPING! I LIVE THREE STREETS UP. GO ON, FURTHER, DRIVE ON!”
He was dismayed when I turned in to drop Bella’s friend off. “THIS IS NO HELP TO ME! YOU MUST TURN AROUND!”
By the time Bella’s friend was getting out of the car, my nerves were getting frayed. The baby was still wailing and I was (sorry to admit this) but getting squeamish about his milky blue blind eye facing me – that and the condition of his toes in his sandals. The man was wearing sandals with a full suit. I asked him to get out of the car, but apparently he could not hear or understand me. I asked him, then, to close his door properly. Again, no understanding. So, under the glare of his milky blind eye, I decided to drive him where he needed to go. There didn’t seem to be any other way of getting him out of my car. His door remained improperly closed.
In the noise and chaos, I had a moment of internal calm. Probably in Bombay, India, he did not look like a crazy homeless man. Probably in Bombay he got a heck of lot more respect for reaching the ripe old age he was. He didn’t stink or use foul language – what was the problem with driving this man a few blocks to his house? Then Christian’sÂ unhappy screaming broke through, and I seethed about the family who would let strangers take care of their grandpa in this way.
Finally I pulled up to a grand old mansion and he slowly made his way out of the car. When he got out and had closed the door, he leaned in through the window, ” WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME IN FOR TEA OR COFFEE?”
Ha. He was civilized! I was tempted, but then decided against it. I shouted, “NO, THANK YOU!,” pulled a quick U-ie and headed home.