On Thursday night, on West 13th St., I found a woman lying quietly across the sidewalk. She was seventyish, and her shopping bags were close by. I asked if she needed help to get up. Standing upright, she seemed confused and grateful. No, she didn’t want to be walked home. Thank you very much. She was fine now.
On Friday night, I found a man lying on the crosswalk at F.I.T. I could see him from blocks away. People were stepping over him. His legs were draped on 27th St, his body was on the sidewalk. I thought he must be raving or covered in vomit, but he wasn’t. He was patiently trying to pick up the pennies and quarters that had scattered from his change cup when he fell. His cane was hooked in the mouth of the paper coffee cup. I knelt down to help him pick up his change and we chatted. He was uncomfortable, lying on his belly like a fish, but he wanted to get his change first.
‘I have arthritis in my back. That’s why I couldn’t get up when I fell. And the wind took my money.’
As we scrabbled at the sidewalk, more people stopped to help. Some of them made me cringe. ‘Oh my goodness, sir, here’s a penny we almost missed.’
Finally, I tried to haul him to his feet. He was much bigger than me, and I wasn’t sure how to grab him. I knew his back was bad, so I took his elbow, trying to help him back onto his knees first.
‘Don’t worry sweetheart. I ain’t dirty. I had a shower.’
I’m embarrassed that he had to tell me that.