September 5, 2006 at 3:50 pm
Yesterday I saw the saddest thing I’ve seen all year. Granted, that’s about 8 months of memories to sort through, but the only recent contender I recall is that flattened bird in the bank drive-through lane the other week which falls more under “gross” than just “sad.”
I was walking down the trail yesterday evening*, mostly done with my walk. I’m coming up to the red bridge across the river, when I see someone up ahead at the opening to the little dirt path that leads down to the river bank.
It’s a 400-pound man in a motorized scooter, just sitting as the joggers and bikers and in-line skater’s whiz by.
I should probably attribute the crunching sound I heard to the breaking of twigs I was trampling over, but it just might have been the sound of my heart breaking. Here was a man literally watching the world pass him by. He was a metaphor given flesh.
He was so large that there is no doubt in my mind he needed that scooter to get around and wasn’t just someone who’d taken a grocery store scooter for a joy ride. I doubt he would have been able to walk a half mile without getting winded. I know because I used to be almost as big as him and walking from a concert venue to a parking lot only half a mile away was my version of the Iron Man.
I didn’t get that good of a look because I was actively attempting not to stare at him like he was a rare white tiger exhibit at the zoo. But I was about as drenched in pity for him as if I’d fallen off the bridge right into the water. He was so clearly isolated even though he was surrounded by people. It made me wonder why he’d come out to the trail. Did he just like the weather and wanted to be outside like most of the people there? Was he involved in some sort of self-flagellation by watching people do what he could not? It seems rather cruel to rub your nose in it like that. He could have been there for some other reason that I can’t guess at. Maybe his battery had died.
While I have some concerns over how commonplace gastric bypass surgery has become these days, seeing a man in his situation made me want to grab some chloroform and a staple gun and do it myself. Okay, not really. At least not any more than I’d perform lipsuction on myself with the dustbuster. I exaggerate to make a point.
I also knew there wasn’t anything I could really do for the guy, much like seeing a wounded raccoon on the side of the road. So I just kept walking by, grateful that these days I’m part of the world passing by and not the one watching it.
* You should probably just amend this phrase to ever other entry I write these days. The trail is a great source of blogging material!