The Trip to New Jersey

Five hour bus ride to New York last night. Driver was a funny Hispanic guy with large quantites of gold bling hanging from his neck, equipped with a delightful array of loud and colorful Spanish curses for late passengers, weaving trucks, and heavy traffic. Sitting beside me was a journalism student from Rockville. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was visiting New York with friends for spring break. She liked Marie Claire Magazine.

Somewhere in Delaware, the bus abruptly stopped alongside another bus which appeared to have broken down, and we picked up an extra load of stranded passengers. The bus was fairly full, so we could not take them all, and many of them were forced to stand. (Others who had been unable to get on were forced to wait longer for the next bus yet to come.) The driver turned off all indoor lights so that we could speed through the night without law enforcement noticing the standees. I stood up to share my seat with others.

In New York, Madison Square Garden was fenced off for some kind of basketball game. Searching for the entrance to Penn Station, I passed behind a CBS news anchor on camera.

At the rail station in Elizabeth, an old man in a wheelchair alternated between calling for help and yelling curses at a man passed out in the elevator, sprawled across the floor so that it was impossible for the wheelchair to get in. I offered to help. Passed-Out Guy had a pulse — and pants damp with urine — but was a dead weight, impossible for me to lift. I settled for rolling him into one corner of the elevator so Old Wheelchair Guy could roll in.

“Oh God,” said Old Wheelchair Guy, “is he okay?” He leaned over to poke Passed-Out Guy in the shoulder. “Hey Poppy, you okay?”

I shook him. “┬┐Despierte, amigo. Esta bien?” — is what I would have said if I remembered any of my Spanish. Passed-Out Guy blinked. There was no smell of alcohol on him, so I wondered if he had OD’d, though there was no sign of a nosebleed or vomit.

Old Wheelchair Guy — who seemed to suffer from mental as well as physical disabilities — thanked me, and we left Passed-Out Guy in the elevator. I washed my hands thoroughly on getting home.


  1. wyclif says:

    I was in Philly last night, but if I were home in Delaware I doubt my Honda would have been much help there.

    The man passed out on the ground: I always wonder what I should do in that situation (should I call an ambulance? should I shake him awake? should I get him coffee? should I share the Gospel with him and pray the Sinner’s Prayer with him in hopes he doesn’t do this again?) and then after I do something that feels so lame, I still lie awake wondering if I did the right thing or did enough.

    Dealing with the homeless really depresses me, but I try not to let it show because I convince myself that one of the things they need besides Jesus is hope to make it another day.

  2. Rowie says:

    What an eventful trip.