Instead of lazing in bed, I decided to take Momster out for lunch.
While waiting for the bus/taxi (we are both indecisive), Momster and I were just observing the changes in our neighborhood when someone caught our eyes.
I have seen him around the neighborhood, having a beer or two with the old men staying around the area at night. He has uncombed hair, his white shirt was open at the throat, exposing his tan wrinkled skin as he made his way, in a rather haggard manner, to the side of the pavement.
Momster shook her head and commented in Cantonese,” These old men and women around these blocks, forever doing dangerous things like this….look at him, he can barely lift his leg up….” before she could end the sentence, we almost witness a fatal accident right before our eyes.
The old man by now has reached the middle of the two way traffic lane where the pedestrian refuge lies. He walked really slowly and I noticed that he was unable to lift his right leg up on the refuge and so he had to balance himself in between the gap of the two refuges.
I replied to Momster, “yes, please do not jaywalk like this because…”
His left leg shuddered and went limp as he took another step forward. He fell backwards and hits his head against the floor and went still for a few seconds.
Momster gasped and grabbed my hand. I couldn’t really hear her words as my mind was in a mess.
“Oh my god….shit…fuck..his head is right there..fuck..” my heart was racing as I noticed a car speeding down the lane as the light turns green at the intersection. It felt almost like a movie scene.
Thankfully the car slowed down in time and swerved past the man, missing his head by just an inch as he lied there motionlessly.
“Did he hurt his head? Is he ok? Shit..What am I suppose to do now?!”
I told Momster to stay still as I dashed towards where the old man was lying and checked if he was ok. He was obviously alive (thank god) but unable to move as he could not even straighten himself up. I gave him my hand, grabbed him by the shoulders and tried to lift him up as much as I can. Hell, a skinny girl like me, trying to lift a fat old man who was probably double my size, was a really bad attempt. (Momster was not much of a help as she was still pretty shaken by the scene and it’s not like she has more strength than I do.)
I saw people across the street passing by, just watching. The cars behind me slowed down to see what was going on. Nobody, not one single soul, came over to help. (and my mind goes “fuck you all.” even though I didn’t say it out loud.)
Finally, a kind young driver from the coming traffic stopped his car, rather badly parked in the middle of the road to block the entire traffic, got off from his car and helped me to lift the man up and took him across the street. The driver behind got out of his car, not to help, but to see what was going on. The old man, with scratches on his hands from the fall, held our hands (the driver and mine, together, a rather awkward moment) and mumbled a bunch of things to me which I didn’t understand but I am guessing he was expressing his gratitude since I only understood “Thank you” in Hokkien. I told him in Mandarin not to do that again and use the traffic lights further down the street, but he didn’t seem to understand me and just limped off.
I went back to where Momster was and sternly told her never to jaywalk like this without me being by her side, nagging nonstop over how an aging body doesn’t reflex as quickly as the mind thinks it does. These incidents definitely underscore the urgent need to make our streets safer, also it makes me wonder where this old man’s family members were. Perhaps if he had someone with him, today’s incident could have been prevented.
Also, shame on those people who stood around to watch instead of helping. Bystander Effect? Whatever it is, nothing can justify you doing nothing when someone is in dire need of help. It’s not about being a “hero” but a matter of choice to not just stand there and watch - stand up and help the next time you come across such situations, please.