I was walking back home from Ali's and I saw a car stopped in South Avenue in front of Al Sigl Center (1000 Elmwood Ave.). The driver was tooting his horn and yelling to someone. I thought he was being nutty, but once he drove through the parking lot to the bus stop, the headlights of the car revealed a figure slumped over inside.
He and I tried to rouse the person (it looked like a man, but appeared to have a purse, so I didn't know) but they didn't wake up, although still clearly breathing. Neither of us were sure what to do so we left. The driver of the car mentioned the smell of alcohol and commented something to the extent that drunks are on their own, apparently clearing his conscience … or just assuaging his guilt.
I decided to call 911 and they said they'd send someone. I felt bad, on the one hand, because I knew the care this person would receive would likely not be adequate to set them on a path to a healthy life. Then again, I really know nothing about the situation. They could have been like me some particular Saturday night, stumbling into a bus stop to "rest" after carrying a curbside string trimmer that held some valuable parts â€” only to pass out stone drunk as I have been known to do. They could have fit my stereotype of a homeless person â€” someone who is probably mentally challenged (or at best ill equipped to scratch out modest success in this modern world) and this was the best they could do for the night. They could have chosen that life and actually been prepared for the conditions â€” after all, they were bundled in what appeared to be no fewer than 3 layers of clothes, and seemed possibly adequately warm to survive.
So I don't know whether I even should have interfered. In my defense, I was unable to get any response, much less a satisfactory one â€” even if it was just to leave them alone. I don't much care for disrupting someone else's freedom to live as they choose, but I also feel that once in a position where you can't respond, you leave yourself vulnerable to such disruptions.
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