Last night, Kathleen and I went for our weekly grocery-shopping trip to Safeway. I usually enjoy these trips. We take our time and talk the whole way there and back.
It was dark – about 7:30 pm – when we started home with a cart-full of groceries. We chatted as I pushed the cart up Fenton St. As we turned to head down Sligo Avenue, we came across an obstruction – or more correctly, a person caught in an obstruction.
Kathleen went ahead to see what was going on. It is a dark area with bushes that make the passage narrow. I pushed the cart to a good stopping place and followed. What we found when we got there was…well, heart-breaking.
A homeless man stood behind a shopping cart that contained all of his possessions. He was an older African-American man, wearing a red down coat and a toboggan. The wheel of the cart containing clothing and half-full black trash bags was tangled-up in this wire.
He said to me, “I have a broken back. I can’t get this untangled. Can you help me please?”
I lifted one corner of the cart and used my foot to push the cable out of the way. The man pushed the cart down to the intersection. I walked with him back to my cart.
He told me that he had been there for a while, and that he was glad I came along. I was glad that we got there before a bus came around the corner – like the one that broke the cable in the first place.
A disabled person, forced to walk the sidewalks of my neighborhood… and even that is denied him. Neglect embodied. He thanked me and I wished him well. The rest of the walk home was silent.
If you don’t walk the sidewalks of Montgomery County often, you may not believe what is going on.