Monday, April 18, 2011
The Lost Man
This weeks doctor appointment was particularly stressful. I was running late so i knew I would be confined to the waiting room for an extended period of time. The gut wrenching fear of waiting rooms, lines etc in regards to my socials phobias is intense enough that most times I'd rather just stay sick than endure the wait to see my doctor.
On this visits wait I noticed what seemed to be a homeless man walking from one end of the wait room to the other. He had straggly grey/black hair, unshaven but no distinguishable beard or mustache... just hair. He had dried bougers coming from his nose. He had dirt on his pants and jacket. A layer of brown dirt- like maybe he sleeps outside? Maybe not. I did notice his socks bright white and clean. Perhaps he frequents a shelter for the homeless. As I'm sitting, judging, analyzing this man fretting over which end of the room he'd prefer one of the staff come along and start ushering him out the door. He tried to object asking where to go but she quickly and quietly excused him out of the office to find his own way from the building. Another half hour of waiting and staring out the window and I get to see my GP. Yippie.
...form, prescription, reaction, debate, advice, concern, advice, new script and my doctor tells me to "Be Strong" as she leaves the room...
I wander out of the building unsure if should call my insurance company and start our tireless debate over coverage. Maybe standing in the misty rain thinking about making a phone call would best be done at home. I start to wander to a spot with a little shelter from the rain/wind to call my taxi when the disoriented older man from the waiting room comes up to me. He is very hard to understand, he mumbles that he is looking to get to part of the city I've never been to. I told him I was sorry I couldn't help. The mans eyes, tired, wild and glossy from the wind plead for direction. He asks me where the nearest bus stop is and I try to tell him. He doesn't understand me and looks very defeated in the direction I had pointed - but not moving.
I wasn't sure it was me speaking until I recognized my own voice "Sir, may I walk you to the bus stop?" I asked. I think he mumbled a reply resembling yes please. We walked the 3 blocks to the nearest bus stop. Not much chit chat as we weren't understanding each other but I'd look at him with a kind smile occasionally and keep saying "its just up ahead". Along the way I walked ahead a bit to catch up with someone else and asked if they knew how to get where he was going. They start to explain and I stopped them, asking if they could explain to the lost man. They declined and hurried off while I waited for the lost man to catch up. I now feel his stigma burning at my tear ducts but I don't cry and instead continue to the bus stop with my new lost man friend.
We don't wait long and the bus I would normally take home pulls up so I jump on and ask the driver if she can help the man. She looks behind me at him and then at me again and says " I'll get him there".
I was so relieved to have helped this man I forgot to be upset and confused and depressed. Even if it was just for 3 blocks. Food for thought :)