Friday, February 23, 2018

Old blind man lost in a parking lot

While parking at Kroger I noticed an old black man who was taking very slow, careful steps. He was leaning unsteadily, crouched over a cane and dragging a small shopping cart behind him. As I stepped past him, he looked up at me and I could tell from his cloudy white eyes that he was blind. Something about his expression caused me to pause and turn back to him. The man, weak and barely able to speak, asked a question that broke my heart:

“Can you tell me where the bus stop is?” he asked, his wide eyes pointed at the skyline above my shoulder.

After giving him directions the man asked if I would walk him to the bus stop. The parking lot was large and it would take him quite a while to reach it, so I pointed his cane toward the bus stop and instructed him to walk “that direction.” Then promised to meet back up with him when I returned from the store, just in case he had wandered off course.

As I neared the entrance, a woman stepped out from her car to ask what I had spoken to the old man about. I explained that he had asked where the bus stop was.

The lady, clearly concerned said "he has been out here for hours. I was here earlier and came back to pick up a few more things.” She observantly pointed out, “he’s wearing that big jacket in this heat. I asked the store to call the ambulance but I don’t understand why they won’t do anything. No one will do anything. It’s too hot out here for him to be walking around like that.”

Now worried about the old man, I promised to call the constable if he had not made it to the bus stop by the time I finished shopping.

While checking out, I looked up the constable’s phone number, then stepped out of the store to search for the old man. He was nearly to the bus stop but was stuck at a curb, unable to lift his shopping cart over it. I rang the constable and they responded that a unit would be dispatched to take the old man to wherever he was going.

The woman who I had spoken with was now holding the man by both hands, helping him to step over the curb. I watched as she helped him sit down on the bench and hand him a bottle of water while a young lady lifted his cart over the curb.

The old man had finally made it to the bus stop, after spending over 3 hours wandering in circles, presumably with every passerby responding “I don’t have any change” before he ever a chance to utter such a simple question: "Can you tell me where the bus stop is?"

Situations like this should remind us how important it is to sometimes just stop and listen. He could have died from heatstroke today, had it not been for a nice lady who recognized that he was simply an old blind man, lost in a parking lot, trying to find his way home.

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