Thursday, October 9, 2014

Life - First Aid

Life - First Aid

This morning there was an accident right in front of me on Cambie and 41st.  Car ran through a red light (or a realllllly stale yellow) clipped another truck (one of those tiny little gardening-esque ones) and caused it to flip onto its side and skid down the road maybe 20 feet.  There's always that sort of instantaneous moment where everyone freezes, did that actually really happen?  We all watch in tableaux as everything comes to a stand still, a horn blares, people on the street look around to each other, and then...just slowly everything snaps into realtime.

I go rushing across the street to the flipped vehicle, another guy runs along the other intersection to it as well.  Out of the corner of my eye I see a girl walk to the car and see if that guy was alright, he's pulled to a stop though now on the far side.

We lean in to check on the driver, he's dazed but seems alright, a few cuts to his hands and face where the windows have shattered from hitting the pavement.  We tell him not to move, but he starts pulling at his seatbelt already anyway.  The other guy gets on his cell phone and starts to call 911.  I drop my bag and start rummaging for first aid supplies, a bandage, some alcohol wipes.  I am a stage manager still, I am always prepared.

Time slows, I see clearly traffic going east and west slowly begins to inch its way, people gawk from behind their steering wheels.  A young man walks past me, I catch his eyes, he deliberately puts on his headphones.  I see him then, and all around me, these two dozen souls going somewhere on a busy thursday morning.  Late for work, business, making money, open the shop up, places to be, business to do, class to attend.  A a young puts his headphones on.  He closes the world out, he ignores this thing which has impacted his day by minutes.  He puts his headphones on.  In his Reebok sneakers, slightly too tight jeans that aren't cuffed properly, his too-hipster toque and his Beats by Dre headphones.

His smirk.  As he ignores people in need.

He puts his headphones on, deliberately.  And walks on by.

The driver heaves himself out of his seat, time speeds up.  We get him to the grassy meridian and tell him to sit down.  He wants to help, to gather the stuff that has fallen off his truck, we tell him we'll get to it.  I bandage his hands, two cuts on his fingers, just behind the knuckles. One cut on his forehead, it's bleeding down into his eyes.  He tries to get up again, I tell him to wait until I'm done, that help is coming soon, that the three of us can't flip his truck back on its wheels anyway.

He tells me he's grateful, he thanks me, again, again, again.  He tells me that not many others would have stopped.  Not many others would have helped.

I tell him that isn't true.  I think of the young man, and his headphones.  I tell him that isn't true, but the words taste like a strange ash.  I tell him it isn't true, someone would've helped, lots of people saw, people would have helped.  People are helping, right? I think of the young man, and his headphones.

Five brisk minutes later, responders are already on the scene.  A fireman has taken my name and number, I'm walking down the stairs to the train.  I wait on the escalator, delicately brush a small piece of glass out of my jeans.  There's no blood on my fingers, I run a hand through my hair and exhale.

The young man is standing on the platform there.  In his hands is a Starbucks coffee, a small brown bag with some bakery pastry.  I look at him, he looks at me.  He has the good sense to look away almost immediately.  Scuffs his feet, looks down at his shoes. His Reebok sneakers.

Something rushes through me.  I want to scream at him, I want to yell and rage.  I want to ask him if that's what he was so pressed for.  His fucking Venti no-fat latte with fucking cinnamon and pumpkin spice?  His five minutes where he couldn't have even bothered to have asked if more assistance was needed.  His goddamn muffin or whatever is in his damn little bag?  A myriad whirlwind of thoughts goes by. I want him to feel bad, to feel small, to feel abashed and shamed and to question his humanity card. I want him to feel...something.  I close a fist, and then release it.

And then it burns itself out. I realize I'm tired.

I walk past him, as I get in front of him, I hesitate, and look out of the corner of my eye at him.  He stiffens.  I continue on, another ten feet down the platform and lean against the stone wall.  I wait for the train.

There are no answers.  I close my eyes.  Darkness floods in, and the rush of wind heralds a train coming through the tunnel.  I vanish into the people.