Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bizarre Neighbors

There's a lot of foot traffic in my new neighborhood. There's probably someone walking by at least every 5 minutes almost all the time. Most of them are just normal people, but I've had a few interesting encounters lately.

Two happened while I was planting my new tree in the front yard. This was about 9AM on a sunny Saturday.

The first was a younger guy, wearing a North Face jacket, leather cap, and carrying a brand name courier bag. He stopped and chatted about the tree for a minute. Then he asked me for some change. This struck as a bit incongruous, because I was wearing ripped cargo pants and a dirty t-shirt, while he was rather better dressed as I mentioned. I'm not really sure what he was thinking anyway, because who carries around money to do yardwork? Needless to say I declined to give him any cash.

Maybe half an hour later an obviously drunk woman happened by, singing loudly. She was also attempting to dance, or at least she was stumbling in an amusing manner. She stopped and proceeded to "serenade" me with some sort of love song for the better part of five minutes, with more capering. Bizarre. Then she asked for change too, but I still didn't have any. So she sang some more and then asked again. I guess you've got to give her credit for being persistent, but I still didn't credit her any cash.

The following Friday we got home from dinner about 8PM. I noticed someone lying on the sidewalk half a block away, so I went to check things out. Turns out it was a 30-ish man. He was passed out face down on the ramp down to the street, with his head lower than his feet. I managed to rouse him enough to ask if he was okay, which he allowed that he was. I figured that maybe he wasn't in the best shape to be the judge of that, so I called the police. Since I was already in Good Samaritan mode, I waited around to make sure nobody ran him over or stole his wallet or anything. It was actually an instructive episode on the attitudes of city dwellers. During the time I was there 20 or 30 people walked, drove or biked by and saw him. I think maybe 5 even looked concerned, and only a couple stopped to see what was going on. Having lived here for a while, I can tell you this isn't exactly a common occurrence, so I can only conclude that these people just don't care.

After about 20 minutes two cops showed up to take over. I've since wondered whether I really did that guy a favor or not. Is it better to take your chances passed out on the sidewalk for a night, or wake up in detox the next morning? Hard for me to say, but either way I'm happier not having him on the sidewalk.

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