Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Big City

I was on the subway this morning and a seemingly-harmless, but very crazy man approached me. He disappeared before long, very alone in his odd world.

Then later, on the street, some distance ahead of me, an old woman tripped on a paving stone and fell into a puddle. The younger man with her went beserk, grabbing her bag and throwing it to the floor in what looked like a temper tantrum. All around people were sitting on walls eating ice creams, or in cars eating hamburgers and only one other woman ran up - as I did - to help out. The man was still picking up her bag and flinging it hard to the ground. I knelt down and did the usual, "can you move, are you feeling okay" and finally - alone - picked her up. She whispered apologetically "My son doesn't have much patience with me." As I helped her dry off, he went nuts again. I was about to whirl around and give him a piece of my mind, when it occured to me that he wasn't quite playing with a full deck. I felt clutched with sadness at their situation. She assured me that flinging her bag around was the worst he would do.

On the streetcar later, the Don Jail was surrounded by sirens, firetrucks, the works... plus the news trucks. And further down the street, a huge fight had broken out outside Jilly's (possibly our nicest strip joint in town, relatively speaking) and people were busy trying to subdue others.

I wondered what the hell was going on. Then I saw a couple standing at a street car stop, on the other side of the road. She was behind him, her arms around him, her cheek pressed against his back. A woman on the street car was chucking her son under the chin and he - very much at the age where he would hate PDAs - was still able to enjoy his mum's affection. At another streetcar stop I saw a quite elderly couple flirting with each other. He was practically toothless, she was practically shapeless, and they were both radiant in their wrinkliness. I came home and had a cup of tea and a painkiller (my back trouble was not aided by picking up the old lady, but for crying out loud, who thinks of stuff like that at that moment?) and thought how happy I was to live right in the city, with all its stories. My idea of personal hell on earth: gated communities.

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