Mid-week, on the home straight from the morning workout (that is 15 minutes from home and not quite at the vomiting stage), a gentleman sat huddled up at the bus stop. He had been in that exact position when I’d passed him an hour previously.
I looked for the tell-tale signs of empty beer cans and discarded cheesy chips strewn around his feet, but no.
His head was slumped into his chest so I could have got near enough to check for signs of active drool… or absence of breathing.
But then, the questions.
What if the guy was asleep after a night of revelry and was just getting forty winks before straightening himself up and out of that bus shelter? What if he was tired, literally, of waiting for the bus to arrive and had dozed off?
And the biggy – but what if he was dead?
A crime fiction fan, I wondered what my favourite characters would do. A useless rumination, since their day jobs involved rousing the dead or near dead, they would not have hesitated to get involved. They would also have been in possession of a weapon and a bulletproof vest – not a light windbreaker thrown over a pyjama top, track pants and an iPhone. (Yes, I leave working out in style to other people.)
I was not equipped to deal with the situation… if there was a situation. Where was the real evidence?
These harried deliberations took only milliseconds and I was several steps gone in the time it took me to convince myself there was nothing to do. Please God, just let him be asleep, I prayed.
The next morning, my man was not at the bus stop. He might have been carted away, or a Norfolk bus did eventually arrive. Hard to know where to place that bet.
But, behold. The next morning, again on the home straight, a well-dressed young woman walked by crying her eyes out. The uncontrollable, wet crying which won’t be gulped down no matter how many times you wipe your eyes and swallow hard.
Again, the questions.
Had someone broken her heart and left her to her walk of shame alone? Had someone died? And what was my preoccupation with people dying en masse in Norfolk?
My instinct was to ask her if she was okay – but I didn’t.
Hers, I told myself, looked like private pain that a dishevelled woman working out in pyjamas would not be able to give succour to.
I walked on by.
Maybe I’ve watched and read too many crime fiction. In the eerie half light of the early morning, it occurred to me these ‘situations’ were staged. They were ‘convincers,’ in police parlance, to lure in unsuspecting, pyjama-walking women of a certain age for a gang to accost her. (Thank you, Hustle.)
Unlikely. I know.
In any case, the guilt from these incidents saw me lending another young girl my cell phone yesterday so she could make ‘an urgent call’ to her friend. She was from out of town, had had her purse stolen… you know the rest.
She was slight with dirty fingernails – maybe just started living on the streets? Dunno, it was hard to tell. She wasn’t at the wet, gulping stage of crying, but she did look close to tears with “The worry.” A good actress?
I relented, but stood close by as she made her call and hoped she didn’t make a run for it. Although, I could definitely have taken her if she’d made a walk for it.
She finished her call and returned my phone.
So, again, a little bit of a guilt-ridden week really, especially since I do try and do one good deed a day. But maybe in the early mornings, good deeds should come with a bulletproof vest and a stun gun tucked into my knickers.
Note to self: start wearing knickers on morning workouts.