Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

A Good Samaritan

with 3 comments

Total Black: $891.18
Total Red: $230,715.35

I rang in the New Year in a subway station at 163rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue.  Not someplace I’d ever planned on being nor ever expected to find myself moments before a new decade began.  But there I was.  Underground.  Typing out text messages as furiously as possible to send my wishes to friends and family.  Turned out I didn’t get to send them until I surfaced at the 23rd Street station nearly forty minutes later.  What was I doing there?  Being a good Samaritan.

I left my apartment around 10:30pm.  I decided I’d stick to Hell’s Kitchen and hit the bars in my neighborhood rather than traipse all over Manhattan.  I started at a bar called Barrage, so named because it’s made to look like a bar inside a garage.  It was dead.  I wanted to dance a little so I thought I try another bar called Posh.  The last time I was there was on the day of the election when Barack Obama was declared the next president of the United States.  As I walked down the block to the bar, I noticed some guy slouched on a nearby stoop.  As I got closer, I could tell he was really drunk and not very with it.  I thought perhaps I should ask the bouncer about him, but clearly they could see him as he was only steps away.  Not wanting to get involved, I just went into the bar and ordered a vodka tonic.

Two drinks later, I decided to leave the bar and head to Therapy.  Posh is anything but, and had become a bit boring.  People were dancing to Holiday by Madonna.  Sure, a good song, but one I’d expect to hear at a bar in Pittsburgh not New York.  As I walked out the door, I overheard people talking about the police.  Someone said, “They were here already.  They just propped him up and left.”  I didn’t know who they were talking about until I noticed that same guy I mentioned above, except this time he was on his hands and knees atop a pair of iron doors that lead to the basement of a building.  His pants were down around his ankles, exposing his boxer shorts to any passers-by.  He was crying out for someone to help him.  “Please help me!” he called.  “Please.  Somebody help me.”  He was clearly still drunk.  I walked over to him cautiously, afraid of what I might step in.  I assumed his pants were around his ankles for a reason.  I didn’t notice anything as I approached, so leaned in and asked him what was wrong.  He only repeated his request for help and added that everything hurt him.  He said his heart hurt.  That made me nervous thinking that he could be experiencing a medical condition.  He was crying . . . no, actually bawling.  That gut-wrenching weeping that only drunk people can make.  I decided I’d take him home.

Clearly in A Day Without a Post I was in a similar state, if not worse.  I trust someone took pity on me then, if only to let me into my building.  I’d pay it forward, I decided.  I asked him where he lived, but he was not in a state to answer.  Someone walked over and handed me his wallet, explaining that he’d found it on the ground near the guy.  The address read Amsterdam Avenue.  Someone hailed us a cab.  As I helped him into the car, a bar patron told me I was the nicest person he’d ever met.  That wasn’t the reason I was doing this, but it was a cool boost.  I only wish I had thought to tell him to pay it forward.  But I thanked him, read the driver the address from my ward’s driver’s license, and then we drove off.  Fernando was his name.  I hoped that we wouldn’t arrive at the location only to find out he had moved and hadn’t updated his ID.  Along the way I held him and grasped his hand.  He cried most of the way there, muttering about the pain and how he wished he was dead.  About half-way there he passed out, which made getting him up and out of the taxi complicated once we arrived.

But arrive we did.  I paid the fare: roughly twenty dollars.  I had his wallet and allowed a brief thought of using his money to slip by my mind before I banished it entirely.  The cab driver had to help me get him out of the cab.  He said he’d wait for me because getting a taxi at that time of night in that section of Manhattan would be difficult.  So I asked him to wait as I steered my ward to the door.  He realized where he was and thanked me profusely.  He opened the door and then we made it down the hall—thankfully he lived on the ground floor—to his apartment.  I had asked him in the car if he lived with anyone.  He said no.  I was going to get him undressed and put him to bed, making sure he at least fell asleep on his side.  I’ve heard stories of stars aspirating on their vomit because they passed out on their backs.  Once we got inside though, he quickly realized what was going on and said, “Oh!  My Latin mother.”  I don’t know why her being Latin mattered, but the way he said it just brought images of a short, mean woman cursing me and her son in Spanish while hitting me with a broom.  I got him stabilized—he had almost fell back into a shelf of knickknacks—handed him his wallet, and wished him a happy New Year.  And out the door I went.  Of course, the cab didn’t wait.  So I hung around a bit to see if a taxi came by.  None did.  Then I noticed that a subway station was only a block away so I headed in that direction and descended to the train.  It was on the platform when I looked at my cell phone and realized I’d be ringing in the new year on the platform or on the C train headed downtown.  The platform won out.  I spotted a few bars on my iPhone so I figured I’d send out my new year’s wishes but just as I hit send, the train pulled in.

I surfaced at 23rd Street forty minutes later and sent my belated messages then.  Never figured my new year would begin this way!

Happy New Year!

3 Responses

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  1. You did a very good thing, I hope good things come to you.


    January 1, 2010 at 16:39

  2. Good deeds, they never do go unpunished . . . .


    January 2, 2010 at 08:46

  3. Helping someone in need? That sounds like a great way to ring in a new year.


    January 31, 2010 at 15:25

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