Aaron's Heroic Qualities, Part Two
Tuesday morning, while out for my sporadic jog, I ran across an old lady. Well, I didn't "run across" her literally, heavens no! I happened upon an elderly woman.
"Excuse me, sir," she said as I ran past. I stopped and turned around.
"Would you be able to assist me? I'm having an emergency."
For a moment, my mind raced. Is she in danger? Should I try to defend her, or run to a house and call the police? Or is it a medical emergency? Where's the nearest phone to call 911? Then, my emotions swelled as I realized that this was a rare chance to act heroic. Aaron, I thought to myself, you're going to save this defenseless old woman.
"Of course I'll help you. What's the matter?"
"Oh well, it's not that important" she said, I need to get over to the clinic on Clinton Street. Clinton Street was several miles from our location on Riverside Drive.
I was just at Lourdes Hospital down the road, she continued, I went there for my heart medication. (I have Medicare and Medicaid.) I have high blood pressure, you know. But they wouldn't give me my medication.
She made a hand motion for me to bend down close to her ear, and said secretly, I think they're trying to phase me out, you know?
Phase you out? I said, looking around nervously. My heroic impulses had been gathered in vain. She was just lonely and wanting to talk to me.
Oh yeah. I'm old you know. I'm eighty-three. People don't like folks like us around.
So they didn't give you your medication?
She changed the subject.
I normally don't talk to just anyone I see on the street. I spoke to you because you look like such a nice young man. How many years have you been in the Service?
She had mistaken the University of Chicago seal on my t-shirt for a military insignia. After a brief inquiry into my life, she launched into a stream of consciousness monologue of her life. Topics included her estranged daughter, and her son who wanted to put her in a loony house (a retirement home, where they also phase out old people) in California; her suspicion that her landlord has conjugal visits with his mistress in her bedroom (which is why she sleeps on the couch, despite her doctors advice); her general dissatisfaction with the health care industry, including Asian employees who no speaka da English, and including her most recent inability to get medication; her fear of crime, including her suspicion that her best friend's daughter stole $100 from her purse while hiding behind the cable repair man, and including cautious measures to be taken on public transportation; and her deceased husband.
After listening for about twenty minutes, I interrupted, saying that I had to get going so I could shower before work. For the next five minutes, she wrapped up her story, repeatedly saying that she didn't want to keep me, and that she really had to get going herself (going where?).
When we parted ways, I was disappointed that I didn't save her life, and that my jogging rhythm' was thrown off. But I was glad that I had made a stranger's life less lonely, and I didn't even have to say anything.