My first bride and I rounded the corner of the apartment building where our grandchildren live; our granddaughter and her friends were behind that building, gathered at the edge of a wood, watching a small green and yellow snake make its way through the underbrush. Cathy headed into the apartment but I stopped to watch the behavior of a man across the street. The man seemed to be trying to get into the back door of the main office building for the apartment complex, but his efforts were disjointed, and his gait was unsteady. He made an exaggerated effort to walk up two low steps; I watched him as he failed, fell back against the driver’s door of a black car parked close to the curb. He pounded on the car, said something that I could not hear, pushed off the car and stumbled back up the steps toward the locked door.
Inside our grandbeauties’ apartment, I assumed a watch-post on the balcony, the place where I customarily oversaw the play of the children outside. My granddaughter was still behind the building with her friends, so I focused my attention on the strange behavior of the man across the street. As I watched his seemingly single-minded attempt to open a locked door, an SUV rounded the corner and slowed near the back of the office. The driver looked at the man, then continued to a nearby parking spot. After parking, the woman got out of the car and walked toward the man. Before she was able to cover the short distance to him, the man fell onto the grass at the side of the building. Just as the woman reached the fallen man, she was joined by a young man who had raced from another building. After a short conference, the two were able to right the fallen man, and once he was seated on the steps, the woman came back to her car and pulled out her cellphone. I told Cathy to watch over our granddaughter out back, and went downstairs to speak to the woman who had interacted with the man.
“I asked him if I should call an ambulance,” she told me. The man refused that suggestion, but she told me that she knew the man, and that he worked for the apartment complex. “I’m so nervous,” she said, but I told her that she had done a kind and generous thing, helping the man. A police car swung around the corner and pulled up to the building, followed by a fire truck; an EMS ambulance soon joined the emergency grouping, and I watched as the man was loaded into the ambulance and driven away. “They said he’s a diabetic,” the Good Samaritan told me. “I didn’t have any orange juice to give him,” she said. I told her that she had done the kind and generous thing, and I was happy to have seen her do so.
Late last year, a friend and I saw a man staggering down the middle of a street, and we pulled over to help him. After getting him onto a bench on the side of the road, we learned that he was a diabetic whose blood sugar was “out of balance.” Perhaps a recent visit to my friend’s infirm parents had us overflowing with good will when we saw the man, because we did not hesitate to help him, but when I saw the staggering man in my grandchildren’s complex, I said to my first bride, with a surfeit of good will, “That’s alcoholic behavior.” She replied, “No: That’s drug behavior.”
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