Apr 27, 2009

I wonder if it's the heat.

Saturday and today presented me with social challenge that I haven't figured out yet.

On Saturday, I walked around the corner of the block on my way to work to find a woman lying on the sidewalk, apparently taking a nap. She was an older lady, I think she might have been in her late 50's. And standing next to her was a policeman. I wondered what was going on, but really, there are many people in this city who simply drop down wherever they happen to be and take a nap. I stepped around her, asked the policeman if she was okay and, getting a curt, "Yes lady. She's fine," I continued on to work. Everyone else stepped over her or around her and didn't worry about her.

Later that day, I went to have lunch in the local Metro supermarket comedor and stepped over this lady again! She was awake this time, lying in a different part of the block, in the middle of a busy sidewalk, stripped naked to the waist and apparently taking in some sun. She smiled and waved to me and I waved back. But I was and still am confused about her. People stepped over and around her and basically ignored her.

This morning while on my way to the bus stop to go home for lunch, I crossed paths with a woman who was completely naked, save for her woven shawl that she wore around her shoulders. She was apparently in no mood to talk and marched resolutely on, bare-footed and bare everywhere else, except, of course, for her shoulders. People and policemen did nothing, said nothing and simpy ignored her.

I wonder what happened to these two women. If I were in the US, the policeman wouldn't have been standing idly by while the first woman caught a nap in the middle of the sidewalk. He might have called for an ambulance or some other kind of asistance, and let her know that there were other places to doze. Later, people might have suspected that both women been assaulted because of their states of undress and called 911, or at the very least offered to help them find some clothing.

Is it the heat? Is it strange that no one else seems to think it's strange to see the isolated naked and half-naked women on the sidewalk in a modern city, regardless of how dangerous or overcrowded it is? Doesn't it bother people to see others like this, especially in dangerous places like this inner city area?

It just frickin freaks ME out. I think need to go talk to my supervisor about what I should be doing in situations like these. Maybe doing nothing like everyone else is the correct thing to be doing, but it sure doesn't feel right to me.


Harpa J said...

I think getting advice from your supervisor is a wise move.

Pondside said...

Very odd, indeed.
I'd trust that instinct to ask your supervisor. Please give us an update when all's said and done.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Reading your blog makes me realize just how insular my experiences in life have been. Oy!

Iron Needles said...

I, too, would be baffled by such great cultural differences. But then, NYC was almost too crazy for me...almost. Talking to your supervisor will probably give you insight. I am interested to hear what you hear.

Rani said...

It sounds like the police don't know how to handle mental illness! As sad as it is, . . . it is kind of funny that you would see these incidents so close together.

Margaret Cloud said...

I would get advice from your supervisor but seem like this problem has been going on for a long time, it would bother me also.