Another moment in the life of (a) Spaz

Those of you who have read already know that strange things happen on the roads I walk. Those of you who have known me longer also realise that it’s not the road that is the primary problem.

But rather then digressing, here’s my latest ‘adventure’.

I’m on my way home from work walking down a busy downtown Toronto sidewalk towards the train station. It’s a beautiful spring afternoon and me is in a good mood. An elderly gentleman catches my attention, as he emerges out of the subway station ahead of me. He is walking very slowly, his rear foot’s big toe almost touching the front foot’s heel with every step.

“Gosh, he’s got a nerve walking like that during pedestrian rush hour, he’s going to get run over”, I think to myself. Despite his mobility he fits in with the downtown crowd wearing a nice suit below a rain coat.

He doesn’t merge with the human traffic but instead cuts across it until he reaches the tall iron fence surrounding an adjacent garden. His hands reach out, grabbing two of its stakes while his entire body seems to lean against the fence. He narrows his head below a cross bar.

“Sight seeing”, I determine, “after all, it’s a cool garden”.

But something doesn’t seem right. Too tight the grip of his hands and his head is looking down rather than through the iron gate.

“Oh my God, he’s having a heart attack!”, I realise as he’s now bending his knees too. Nobody else is stopping. Some are looking at him, but nobody stops.

“Ok you drama queen, you always think the worst. But if he’s really having one, I need to help. Why doesn’t someone else stop, I don’t know what to do. Maybe he just needs to examine his shoes. But he doesn’t look good,…….” I manage to cram that entire mental conversation into the amount of time it would usually take me to say one of those sentences.

Two steps away of him, and before I can make a conscious decision, I turn towards him.
As my hand reaches out to touch his arm, “you better not be crazy and stab me with a knife you’ve got hidden in your coat” escapes my alert brain, which is in turn overtaken by “Excuse me Sir, are you alright?” before it reaches my lips.

The man lifts his head and looks a little bewildered at my appearance.
“Oh, yes, I guess. Seems my knee is acting gimpy, so I wanted to stretch it”, he lets me know.
“Oh, ok”, I respond smiling”, I just wanted to make sure you’re ok.”
Not to intrude anymore I’m already in the process of moving on.
I think I hear a “Thank you”, but my brain is already loudly celebrating the fact that he wasn’t having a heart attack and that he didn’t stab me either. Mission accomplished, let me move on before something awkward happens.

I’m still smiling.
“If this was my grandfather, I’d be happy some stranger stopped to make sure he’s ok”, my internal voice says.

“Wonder what a gimpy knee is?”

Followed by a slight discomfort which increases with every additional thought:
“It’s probably nothing much more than a quick cramp.”
“But cramps can last.”
“What if it’s worse than a cramp?”
“What if gimpy means that he can’t walk anymore?”


To be sure, I run the replay:
“Excuse me Sir, are you ok?”
“I can’t walk.”
“Oh, ok, since you’re not having a heart attack and haven’t stabbed me, I’ll be on my way!”

Well, I guess he’s going to go home and tell his granddaughter how inconsiderate downtown people are. After he has called 9-1-1 on his cell, which took him to the hospital where he had emergency knee surgery and after two months discharged him to his home, that is.


~ by spasmicallyperfect on April 9, 2008.

5 Responses to “Another moment in the life of (a) Spaz”

  1. Gimpy knees can be nothing or a real problem. My sister has had one since high school. She blew it out in basketball. Strange thing about knees and the medical industry, knee replacements (like any other medical joint replacement) are not usually done unless you are over forty as they can only replace the original joint twice in a lifetime. So most people with damaged joints are forced to live with the associated problems. In my sisters case she could be walking down the street anywhere and her knee would pop out of joint for years. And because she was not forty they would not replace the knee until they were eventually forced to because her hobbling ruined her other knee. And now that she has had to have both knees replaced if she wears out this set anytime soon and is forced to have another replacement she faces an old age without the option of getting them replaced a third time.
    The gentleman should have let you know if he was needing assistance. He may have been as worried about your intentions as you were his! We live in a modern World of worry because we have become aware that so often the helping hand can also be the hand that takes advantage of the situation. It has always been that way but most of us were blissfully ignorant of the situation. You were in a damned of you do, damned of you don’t situation. I wish I could say I would have called 9-11 but I have become accustomed not to intrude when people do not ask for help as many of them have become so afraid that they don’t want help and my intrusion might only make the situation worse.

    Oh my. After reading your educational (thank you) lines, I am now really concerned, not so much about my lack of understanding but I hope if he was in serious need of help, someone else helped him out. After a night’s sleep on the event I do think though that I would have caught onto any serious problem. I assume that after having to climb to stairs from the subway station, he simply needed a rest.

    And to add to the story in my thought process there was a quick wonder whether he thought I was trying to take advantage and steal his wallet or something. But then there were so many people, it would have been a silly thing to do.

  2. Unfortunately we just don’t live in a trusting world anymore, do we? I am glad that you did stop and ask him if he needed help, and we can only hope that if he did need help he would have told you. I think it is sad that so many others would just walk on by without seeming to care. On the other hand, it is good to know that there are still caring people like you in the world.

    Who said I care? I just wanted to make sure the voices in my head wouldn’t keep me up at night! 😉 Thanks for stopping by Jennifer, hope all is well.

  3. It’s nice to know that someone will be there when I get a gimpy knee.

    For you, always 🙂 . BTW will have to muster up the boldness to respond to your latest posts, have read them all but at times I’m simply out of words.

  4. I wish I had the life of a “Spaz”… At least I would laugh 😉

    You are an amazing woman… Have a great weekend!!!

  5. Heartwarming story and your reaction to it is no surprise to me, S.
    You care for your fellow man.
    That is a beautiful thing, these days.

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