Thursday, March 08, 2007

PS on yesterday (Teri similarly captured at a stop light)

The Scorpio, who has spent his work morning coaxing teenagers to hand over lethal weapons to him and trying to drum it into their heads that they're being played, groans as I start into the story of giving cash away to a dubious stranger. "Linda, tell me she isn't sitting on your couch. Tell me you didn't bring her home."

No. Didn't do that. Made a couple crucial errors in judgment, but not that one. Jeez Louise.

And ever since then, I've been pondering the idea of hypothermia. Normally, I would have been out of there, away from that woman in a New York minute. The abused woman story has been abused so often in the same circumstances that I absolutely knew better. I consider how my brain wasn't registering the familiarity of the story. Her jittery speech patterns. The lack of presence in her eyes. How, a few minutes later, my brain wasn't even in charge of my feet.

And then I consider the fact that I feel no animosity about the whole thing now, when I am warm and passingly lucid. I don't feel like a person who tried to do a good thing. I'm just a person who wanted to get warm. "She knew that," the Scorpio says, "she counted on you needing to just deal with the situation fast, without thinking.."

More surprisingly, I realize I don't feel like she is a person who did a bad thing. Everyone did what they had to do to get their needs met. It wasn't personal. On either side. If she hits on me again, I'll grin and tell her, "You got me once, toots - but not twice."

Now the sidewalk. The bloody knee-eating, ankle-twisting vicious murderous sidewalk? That's another matter. That's personal.

12 comments:

zhoen said...

She is poor, abused, and desperate. You were compassionate. Nothing to berate yourself about. We all have our moments, and you never know when a miracle might just occur in those liminal moments.

tracy said...

Here I am at last.
Its the broken fingers that got me. And the period without tampons. Every woman knows the unspoken share your tampons law.
I am glad you are still on about it and I am glad you gave her 20 dollars.

phlegmfatale said...

You know, you could just have a hard-and-fast policy that you never give money to people in that situation, but you're not a hard woman. Tough and determined? Absolutely.

But for whateve reason, your heart went out to her. I generally don't fall for the line either. Then again, every once in a while, someone finds my heart strings and plays them, and no one is more surprised than me. You're human. I would have done the same at one time or another. I wish you hadn't gotten hurt in the process. I want to believe some greater good was served by all you experienced.

If nothing else, surely there is something sublimely edifying in knowing you were and are alive, and that you have the ability to surprise yourself. Life is sweet.

Anonymous said...

Like most residents of the "worst neighborhood in Canada" (trademark), I have compassion fatigue.

That's what we called it when I was a ranger --compassion fatigue. The field medics were the worst; "Hey, maybe it's your first dead daughter, but shit lady, we're the 689th, and it's the 17th one for us this year..." I shudder when I think about how used to it I've become living here, like my training kicked back in. I used to have to try not to stare, now I just step over them, hold my breath so as not to smell the piss/infection/shit/meth/semen. I suppose I should be grateful in a way. No time for crosses, we need the wood to build fences around here. Too much, too much.

So you got played. Big deal.

No one seems to remember that the stakes are almost always a helluva lot higher for the player than they are for the "victim". Except you, most of the time.

And I was wondering to when you were going to get around to your annual wrecking.

-marko

Darkmind said...

I was going to make fun of you for being such a sucker, but then I realized that I too have had lapses in judgement like this. I once bought shoes for 20 poor Ugandan children for no reason. NO FUCKING REASON!! DAMN I'm still pissed about that!

LJ said...

Z - I honestly don't know if I can claim "compassionate" except in the most knee-jerk kind of way. Really. I was cold & I was in problem-solving mode.My problem and hers: cold. Hers: obviously starved to death & bleeding into her jeans. I went straight to: solve problem, as if I was God herself. And God said, Let there be Sanitary Supplies.
T!!! Yep. I think that was the bit that got me, too. And the broken fingers. Oh, she'd have killed you honey. Your sympathy nerve would've been twanging out loud!
PF - I think I rather stunned myself, actually. That I didn't have a saner reaction, like offering to get the Tampax, buy her some food (not hand over drug money)and show her to a warm place.
Marko! What does this mean?
"Except you, most of the time." Of course you COULD email me the answer to that. And PS - There. My annual wrecking is over with, if I'm lucky. And you?
D - Making fun of me is always the right thing to do. Especially if you take aim from a glass house. And by the way, where's your next entry? Are you resting on your laurels because the last one was really good?

Ariel said...

What happened may have left you feeling bemused and possibly taken for a ride but please don't let it prevent you from helping someone else in the future. Compassion fatigue is a terrible modern affliction, and in our increasingly impersonal society, we need people who care, people like you. Don't let life change you. This is a fight I fight every day, and I am very cynical yet I will always endeavour to give whatever assistance I can because it is my remit as a human being. And by the way, torn jeans are all the rage apparently. Worn with a pair of colourful patterned tights underneath you could set a new trend... Hope you are feeling better.

Darkmind said...

I got your entry right heah (honk honk)!!!

herhimnbryn said...

Like you said over at my place.....people are the best stories.

edvard moonke said...

I read this and couldn't help but smile at the way you transfer your anger and the blame to the inanimate object rather than the person, which I find admirable. That tough exterior doesn't fool me, I can see the caring human being inside you.

Minor Deity said...

Don't let the exterior fool you. Underneath that tough-as-nails exterior...


... lies a tough-as-nails interior. ;)

LJ said...

MD's got the picture.