Going to work

by jexmas on February 23, 2016

So I am walking to work along Fourth Street under the overpass between Bryant and Harrison Streets and towards Yerba Buena Gardens. I am thinking about the day ahead when the sound of loud shouting enters my consciousness. I look ahead to see where the noise is coming from.

As I get closer, a man in a wheelchair is on the road near the ramp up onto the sidewalk opposite Whole Foods. He is wheeling his chair around, back and forth, looking and sounding agitated and upset. He is as thin as a rail in a red plaid shirt, jeans and dirty shoes. He has wild, wispy reddish blond hair sticking up in all directions. He is holding a short crowbar in one hand.

Another man is several feet away, on his feet, dressed in smart, casual clothing, agitated and restless, shouting loudly into his cell phone.

“Hurry! Come quickly. He’s attacking my car!”

As soon as he says this, the man in the wheelchair also shouts, equally loudly, “Get the fuck away from me!”

The man on the phone is almost hysterical. “He’s crazy! Come quickly!”

I am on the other side of the street, watching this going on. I surmise that the man on the phone has called the police. I also assume that the man in the wheelchair hit the other man’s car with the crowbar, probably protesting something, although it is hard to say.

The wild man in the wheelchair wheels his chair closer to the man on the phone, setting off a whole new string of yelling. The wild man is angrily yelling, “Get the fuck away from me!” over and over, at the same time as he is advancing on the man on the phone.

The man on the phone is yelling a blow-by-blow description of these vocal events to the police. I start to worry that the police will come and shoot the man in the wheelchair.

Suddenly, the man in the wheelchair stands up and starts walking towards the man on the phone. Then he thinks better of it and goes back and sits down again, still yelling, “Get the fuck away from me.” He turns his wheelchair and pushing himself up the ramp disappears down the Harrison Street sidewalk.

The crisis is over, thank goodness. After the fact, as I continue walking along to work, I find myself thinking, “What was that? So much anger and so little actually happening.” I imagine the police could easily have shown up, drawn their guns and challenged the man in the wheelchair to give up. He was so angry, perhaps he would not have been able to calm down in that moment. And then what? Another dead man pumped full of bullets on the streets of San Francisco?

Of course, I am taking the story in that direction. It is what happens so easily these days. I shudder and keep walking.

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