Bold Symmetry

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Category: Loose Ends

Loose Ends: Helping an Old Lady Cross the Street…. How Cliché

I decided to get a job to help more people. I was on my way to the interview and, just a street from where I would be interviewing at, I saw an old lady in the middle of the street in the path of the train. She stood there for too long a time for me to feel comfortable with her staying there. I use “stood” liberally because, in reality, she was an upside down “U,” her waist higher than her head. Her cane held up her arm and lower body, but somehow her head hung low like a willow just above the ground. Tens of Boston College students right by her, none of which seemed they would be much concerned had the train come by and hit her. Many Tinder meetings at Starbucks scheduled, although I give them some leeway because maybe they thought it could be good for someone of her stature and gait.

Anyway, I thought it might be good to help someone before going in for the interview. After all, that’s what I planned to be doing after if I got the job. Maybe this was an intensely intricate covert interview procedure, more likely a Truman-esque or cosmic procedure. So I helped her cross the street and not get hit. I guided her and let her hold my arm, but she seemed to want to continue to stand on the train tracks. Was I ruining this poor woman’s suicide attempt? I asked her where she was going. Why do you want to stand here? She was trying to get to the train stop, which was on the side we came from. I said, “Oh that’s on the side we came from.” We crossed back again. I told cars to stop. I said, “Stop cars!” I brought her back and near the stop she was looking for but only seeing ground.

Before I was with her, no one was looking at her. When I started talking to her and walking with her everyone was looking everytime I looked up, which was a small amount of the encounter since I was mostly down on the ground with her. I know what those BC kids were thinking. “Helping an old lady with a cane cross the street? How cliché.” I enjoyed being down on the ground with her like we were looking for a St. Giles necklace in a high grass field. Helped her at face level. Hope she got her train.

Loose Ends Tied: 6

Loose Ends: The Beginning

I have been inspired to start this series of posts by a handful of occurrences from the past week in which I tied up some loose ends. From now on each post will be one occurrence, but here are the initial few grouped together.

I walked by a man waiting at a bus stop. The bus approached. He asked me for two $5 bills for his $10 bill. Realizing he was trying to save himself from wasting ten bucks for a single bus fare (why don’t those things give change yet?), I offered him a 5 and three 1s, the only bills I had in my wallet, and he accepted. In retrospect it may have seemed a bit odd to the other man waiting at the bus stop. “Hi, can I give you 8 dollars for 10 dollars?” “Ya, thanks!” “Alright, peace.” The bus arrived shortly after. He was able to get on and hold on to a $5 bill he would have otherwise been throwing away had I not been there. I walked off with two extra dollars, first proud, later ashamed.

I later gave these extra dollars to a man asking for money at the train station. He was well dressed, asking for money, so there’s no telling how many refusals he had gotten that day and how many working people he had pissed off. It cost me only $2 for him to get his train, or his coffee, or his other drug of choice, and to relieve countless other commuters from having to pretend not to hear him as they continued on their less needful ways. +2

Total Loose Ends Tied: 2

A week later I was on my way to Kenmore Square in Boston to see the old buildings that were Grahm Jr. College in the 1960s. Andy Kaufman attended. I like him. Thank you veddy much. I was riding a Hubway bike in the rain toward Kenmore. It may as well have been a Fischer Price with the way it handled. I saw an Apple on the ground – an iPhone. Quickly put it in my pocket and brought it in from the rain.

I emailed her. Hi, I found your phone out in the rain so I decided to take it in and give it shelter at the Barnes & Noble in Kenmore Square. They’ll have it at the counter. Don’t worry, it’s still seems to be working! -Patricia Kaufman

She replied later on. Will, MANY THANKS! I’ve just picked up my phone & couldn’t be more grateful. She spelled my named wrong. It’s one “l”. But she seemed happy. I mean caps and an exclamation point. Takes a lot to get there nowadays. And she was a Kaufman – an unexpected extra? Fate? Probably nothing… My finger did spark the first time I touched Kaufman’s dorm building. +1

Loose Ends Tied Up: 3

I left the library and took a call. My phone is much shittier, even shittier than the iPhone 3 she had. But of course, neither is actually shitty at all. A beggar with a cup 30 feet away in front of the McDonalds wanted a smoke. We negotiated the entire deal, the asking, the agreement, the “you got a light,” and the the thanking, with hand gestures alone as a I continued to talk on the phone. I liked that. As he lit up, so did I. +1

Loose Ends Tied Up: 4

On the way home I encountered an old arts-and-craftsy type lady screaming that someone had parked behind her car in her driveway. Kids were getting out of school across the street and it was likely that another mom had decided to park there just for the few minutes it would take to retrieve her kid. Art-and-crafts lady saw it differently. This was an abomination, and the highest of criminal acts. A pen and pad materialized in her hand and she began jotting down the license plate. I’m not sure how numbers could be fashioned with the anger of those hand gestures. Maybe it was all an act. The other mom came back, apologetic. Art-and crafts continued, “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’D DO THIS TO ME. I’D NEVER DO THIS TO YOU. I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT TO GET TO. I’D NEVER DO THIS TO YOU.” It’s hard to imagine there’d be a scenario where she needed to and equally hard to imagine the apologetic woman would be this furious about it. So apologetic woman moves her car and is apologetic and Arts-and-crafts storms back in her house. I stick around, attempting to film as I’ll start doing for these things if possible (I didn’t get any footage here as I thought my head might get bitten off or smashed by a repurposed Mason jar). The most important thing to me was making sure the apologetic mom was ok, so when she finished moving her car I made it clear, “Her cat must’ve run away. You didn’t deserve that.” These words were enough to restore a smile to her face and I’d like to think that maybe this prevented her from a day of feeling sorry for herself then going home, divorcing her husband and beating her child for taking her sweet time exiting the school. You never know. Butterfly effect. By the way, Art-and-crafts took another ten minutes to leave her house and by then apologetic mom had left with her child. Meh. +1

Loose Ends Tied Up: 5

Loose Ends: The Mission Statement

I only want to help people, in the freest and most playful sense of the word. First sentence and I’m already clamming up, worried you’ll judge me for my grammar errors. This is definitely not free-est? Most free. There we go. I have flirted with social work, gotten a degree in psychology from a pretty good university, but I’m left unsatisfied by all the current paradigms for help. I think this mainly has to do with the settings provided and corresponding stigma. You go to a hospital for a mental health problem and you’re crazy, but hold on to it and let it grow inside you as you walk the streets as a “normal” and you will be seen as normal. This is where I come in.

I want to help you on the streets. I’ve had all these crazy thoughts about ways to provide favors for strangers – driving around a van labelled HELP to replace a job our police once handled ’til some decided they favored shooting people and really screwed up the public image of a cop. I know it’s stupid. But even when I take a short walk, I see all these LOOSE ENDS, needing to be tied up. All these frays in the cosmic fabric where my presence, or the presence of anyone who can see them for that matter, could step in and stitch things up relatively easily before the hole is ripped open wider and pretty soon, Zika fever. What?! I don’t know, but it’s a hot issue.

Come with me as I help some people on the street and see if anything good happens.

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