Monday, June 8, 2009

Close Encounters.

She stood with her mouth gaping open as she stared down at the body. She should have felt shocked, taken aback, horrified at finding a body that may or may not be alive on the elevator floor, but somehow, she felt it was almost appropriate given where her office was. She would have been more shocked if the elevator opened and soft music invited her in. She stood staring at the body wondering if she should nudge it with her foot to see if it was alive and then if it was, if she should ride up with it or take the stairs even though she didn't know where that was. As she stood pondering, someone came up behind her.

"Well, they say three's a crowd."

She turned, her mouth still hanging open, to face a man with a little stubble on his face, wire rim glasses, and beady eyes. It was something about the way he held himself or was it the look in his eyes or the tone of his voice, she couldn't quite figure it out, but she was immediately on guard.

"Riiight," she said, still a little wary. "So,-"

"This happens all the time," the man said abruptly. "Homeless people are always sleeping down in the garage and sometimes in the elevator if it's not locked at night."

"So, he's alive? Should we call 911 or an ambulance or something?

"God no! I'm not security or management. I'm a goddamn lawyer. If I wanted to deal with low life, scum bags like this, I would have been a public defender! Come on let's take the stairs, you're heading up right? This way."

Now she was shocked and taken aback and absolutely horrified at this guys attitude. Sure it was her first day, and she wasn't security, or management or a lawyer, but she was a decent human being who had some compassion for people. She could put aside her surprise at finding a homeless person sleeping in the elevator and she could do something to help him.

"You go ahead. I'm going to see if I can wake him up."

"Are you out of your mind?! He could attack you or God forbid, rape you."

"Then maybe you should be a gentleman and stick around to make sure that doesn't happen, or do lawyers not do that either?" She was pretty impressed with herself for making such a bold retort.

"Fine. I'll help you, but I'm going to be late for work you know."

"Yeah, well so am I, but I am going to assume that my boss is a decent person who will understand this situation, since it happens all the time right," she spat back sarcastically.

She felt a tingle coursing throughout her body and wanted to believe it was because for once in her life she actually said what was on her mind and put this jerk in his place. What she didn't want to think about was her increasing nerves because she had never actually been this close to a homeless person.

Thanks Carlo Nicora!

Sure she wanted to come across as kind hearted and whether the body was breathing was suspect, but she was never one to stick her nose in other people's business. If she saw something happening on the street, she was not the good Samaritan who offered help, she was the one who pretended she didn't see and looked the other way. Maybe it was this guy's blatant disregard that put things into perspective for her or maybe she was simply trying to delay the inevitable of starting her first day, but she felt it was her duty to help.

"Hello? Hello! Are you okay?" She held her breath and cringed as she touched him.

The body moved a little and made a grunting sound. She thought about calling him 'sir' but that somehow felt inappropriate. She turned to look at the man with the stubble as if to ask him what she should do next. He stared blankly at her as if telling her that this was her battle, but she continued to look at him expectantly. Suddenly his eyes got really big and his mouth opened to yell.


M.J. said...

You touched on a major problem with humanity (or the lack there of) these days. So many people look the other way when a "stranger" is in trouble. The fact that self-defense classes teach you to yell "fire" if you're being raped instead of "help" because no on will come for the latter, says it all....

Sebastian said...

Hah, curious anecdote, MJ! Perhaps 'SALE, SALE!' would be even better...

I like the story, though I didn't feel comfortable with the protagonist being so antsy around a vagrant -- was I meant to feel pity for the 'poor lady' being stuck with a smelly bum or for the seemingly-dead homeless guy?

shansPLC said...

Thanks new 20sb friend! I wasn't trying to convey pity for the protagonist, just trying to show that she gets nervous in new situations (similar to how she feels about starting a new job) and perhaps some of her nerves are due to the fact that she is overcoming some of the biases she once had.

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