Recently, I had a situation pop up that made me go "Wow!" and reminded me that you never know what might happen or what you might encounter.
It was last Thursday evening. The organization I work for had a great fundraiser in the River North area. I rode my bike to the event. It was such a gorgeous evening, I decided to get a long distance (10-20 mile) bike ride in, so I was heading back to my office so I could change clothes. I'm heading West on Randolph St. through Restaurant Row, planning on making a left turn onto Morgan St. As I'm turning off of Randolph onto Morgan I see a guy flat-back on the ground on the Northwest corner next to a garbage can.
I get about a block down before I bust a U-turn. I knew that if I didn't go back and check on him it would be on my mind all night, and I would feel like a shitty person.
I get over to him. And initially I'm not sure he's even breathing. I verbally check on him a few times when suddenly he rolls onto his side. I continue verbally checking in with him when he rolls on his back, and finally stands up. Completely inebriated, he damn near falls off the curb at which point I catch him. This is also when Brad, a passerby, enters the situation.
The guy is drunk, on the verge of being sick, and after checking his wallet, we discover he lives in Hyde Park. After a short deliberation of whether a cabbie will actually take him home, we hail a cab. We explain to the cabbie the situation. We give him the address, and tell him the guy has 2 credit cards in his wallet.
The guy begins to get sick. Brad and I are standing by, and the cabbie holds his head and shoulders as he throws up a bit. Let me go ahead and say that this cab driver was amazing. An older gentleman from what I would guess was Nigeria because of his accent...he was excellent. Professional, his only reservation was that neither I nor Brad would be there to witness the credit card transaction, and he didn't want any accusations of funny business. But he encouraged the guy to throw up, and after a suggestion that he lay down during the ride, the driver lays him down in the back seat, puts his legs up, and closes the door. Also to note, this was a Checker Taxi, so big-ups to Checker Taxi Chicago.
The cabbie tells us that it's a $50 charge if he throws up in the cab. I say "He lives in HP and is drinking in West Loop. He's good for it, just get him home safe." My thought is that he's better off sleeping in his own yard or porch than lying on the corner in the West Loop.
I take a picture of the guys drivers license, with intention to Facebook him the following day to check in on him, as well as to inform him on exactly how he got home. I also took a picture of the cab number, just in case.
You never know when someone will need your help. The question is, will you take the time to help. 35 minutes out of my day...but there's no telling what could have happened to that dude, and yes, I'm gonna say it, most of the people walking by didn't seem too ready to assist. Now, it's no secret to anyone who knows me that I have no love for the West Loop. I don't think the people in this neighborhood are very friendly..the West Loop aka The Poop Loop definitely has a "either you belong or you don't belong" vibe, and I can assure you I don't belong. My coworkers often tease me at the grimace on my face when they suggest we go to any of the restaurants in the area, even the Restaurant Row elite. The West Loop has offended me, and at this juncture, I'll find the way she even eats crackers offensive as fuck. I will say though that I reached a new level of disappointment with the neighborhood when I actually witnessed people walking near the gentleman passed out on the corner without so much as a second glance. He could've been in serious medical need...but that was too much work for a Thursday night on the town??? Say what you want about Englewood and Austin, but when I'm in those neighborhoods (I live in neither), people actually say hello, and return a smile and/or wave. Just food for that. Also, I'm very glad that Brad stopped to assist in the situation. As a black male, I felt in a precarious situation that was screaming for the police to stop by. Also, I feel it's of some need to mention that Brad was Caucasian, and the drunk participant in this tale was neither white nor black.
But yeah, we talk about the people we want to be, and the kind of place we want to exist in, but if you're not putting in real time, within but also outside of your own life, to make that a reality, then you must like where we are. You can bitch about Donald Trump all you want, but what are you doing to make sure that his presidency will only be four years? You can bellyache about the increasing violence in Chicago, but what are you doing to help the situation, other than going to work every day and punching a clock? It takes more than that, from all of us, to create change. We not only have to work towards it, but also resemble what we want in our own lives, within ourselves....like being nice to each other...liking helping someone laid out on a street corner, regardless of the inconvenience...like calling the police when someone needs help, rather than insisting you don't want to get involved, or worse yet, pulling out your camera to record because surely the police will need videos from 12 vantage points of the incident.
C'mon Chicago, we can be better than that.
Be the change you want to see.
I say it.
I live it. #ChicagoStandUp