Do Not Disturb

I saw a disturbing scene the other morning.

It wasn’t a typical day for me. I didn’t leave my house and drive to work as usual. Instead, I headed in the opposite direction to an all-day class. And on the way to my class, I made a quick stop at City Market, the downtown location.

I was feeling carefree and content as I got back into my vehicle. Though I wouldn’t be there, I knew all was in order for my students to have a productive day without me. I had caffeine and a banana and a little something sweet in hand for breakfast. And I was looking forward to a worthwhile day of professional learning.

I didn’t particularly want my happy morning to be disturbed.

There was honking. Different rhythms, different tones. Different horns being played by several different drivers.

The honking was coming from 1st Street. First street has four lanes and is quite busy, especially at 7:45 in the morning, but when I looked up it was at a standstill.

A man, in a grungy tan coat, was staggering through the middle of the street. It was apparent that he wasn’t trying to get to the other side of the street, necessarily; he didn’t seem to realize that he was in the street. His gaze, skittish yet glazed, flitted from the direction of the honking horns, down to his seemingly unruly feet, to his left hand, which danced in front of his face like a suspended marionette appendage, the cigarette there powerless in connecting with his waggling head.

And behind him.  He kept glancing behind him. Not from where he had come, which was too distant, both physically and in his memory, but to the street. There was something on the street that, unlike the traffic and his wayward body parts and that cigarette, was better able to maintain his attention, his focus.

And then I saw it.

A dog. His dog.

He was a short-haired heeler mix, dressed smartly in a clean puffy jacket zipped down his spine. I watched as he wandered toward one of the stopped cars, the passenger side, and looked longingly at the window, hoping, perhaps, to get in, to be taken somewhere, somewhere other than this currently confusing situation.

I considered, briefly, opening my door and calling him into my vehicle. But that would leave the man alone.

After a few seconds, he turned and trotted after the man, following him faithfully.

The man stepped onto the sidewalk and into the shrubs that lined the parking lot.

Really? I thought, as the man slogged through the bushes. You have to go through the vegetation instead of around? And then I knew. Any compassion I may have initially had for this human being had turned to anger and complete disappointment.

It was the dog. It was one thing to get himself into this situation, to be so messed up so early in the morning, to not know where he was or where he was going, to put his life at risk as he wandered aimlessly through the city, across busy streets. But to get a helpless being involved? To bring a creature as wonderful as the dog into this mess?

The man mangled several of the dense, low-lying branches of the bushes before he got hung up and tripped, falling onto his left shoulder to the pavement of the parking lot. The dog leaped the span of shrubbery and went straight to the man, sitting down near him, nuzzling his face. The man grasped the dog’s head and used it as leverage to get himself into a sitting position.

And that’s the last I saw of them–a man and a dog sitting face-to-face on the pavement of a grocery store parking lot–as I drove away, away to my own day.

Disturbed. Downright disturbed.

Who was this man? What was his story? Was he always so out of it or was the majority of his time spent lucid and thinking and feeling? What about the dog? Were his needs being met? Was he getting fed? Was anyone going to take that jacket off him once the weather changed? Did he feel loved? Was he getting the same love that he was giving? (Does any dog?)

And what in the world was going on with my feelings? Why did the concern I felt, initially, for this human being dissipate so quickly and turn to anger? Was it easier that way? Easier to be angry than caring? Did being angry make it easier to drive away and continue on with my day?

Disturbed. What right did this guy have to disturb my otherwise wonderful morning?

What a horrible question. What right did I have to be upset with a slight disturbance, when his entire life might be one big disturbance? To himself, to society.

Most of us don’t want to be disturbed, including me. It’s easier to not look, not see, to just drive away and get to a place where my mind can quickly become preoccupied with something else. Something more normal, less perplexing and muddled.

And I find that terribly disturbing, exponentially more disturbing than the scene that disturbed me in the first place.

I suppose that’s what’s supposed to happen. We get disturbed and if we get downright disturbed, or get disturbed often enough, then we might actually force ourselves to notice, to really see what’s going on, to take action.

I am grateful for those who are there already, who are able to recognize their feelings, who are willing to take the time and make the effort to do something.

I am disturbed that I don’t feel that pressure. Am I selfish? Uncaring? Powerless? Too busy? I’m busy working, teaching children, raising my own. Busy doing what I can to make sure others don’t end up in the same shoes, the same street, the same parking lot as this man.

Yeah, that’s a pretty good answer. I’m busy making sure others get a good start in life. It’ll stop my disturbance meter for now.

But it’s definitely gone up a notch.

My Strange Addiction

My Strange Addiction.

This was reposted for the Daily Prompt: Can’t Get Enough

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/daily-prompt-addicting/

My Strange Addiction

I came home the other day and Addy had the t.v. on. “Hey, mama, wanna watch this with me?”

“What is it?” I rarely watch t.v. and when I do, I have to do something else simultaneously.

“It’s called ‘My Strange Addiction.’ This one is about this guy who eats glass.”

When your teenage daughter asks you if you want to watch a show with her, or do anything with her for that matter, you do it, even if the activity is number 192 on your priority list. More