On my mail route today I noticed an older Chinese man standing at the bus stop, cupping his ears. All he had on his head was a ball cap. “Where’s his toque!?,” I said out-loud. With the wind chill it was -25 degrees celsius.
As I passed by I took a good look at him. He seemed genuinely worried. Eyes darting about. Doing a little jog on the spot, like he was going to piss himself. The guy looked like he was almost in tears!
Suddenly, a little Chinese woman appeared before me in a full winter jacket, hood up over her head, and asked, “Can you call a cab?”
“You want me to call you a cab?”
She shook her head “yes” and then I fucking lied right to her fucking face. “I don’t have my phone on me.”
The Chinese man and I looked at each other and he looked so sad, “Oh. No phone,” he said.
“Yeah. I’m sorry,” I replied. “Is your bus late?”
“Yes. Late.” He pointed up at the bus stop sign.
“Oh. Shit. Sorry.” I said. And kept walking.
The lady knocked on the front door of the nearest house and I kept walking. I was so close to finishing my route I had just two more blocks to go. I could almost tasted it. Getting in my truck, driving back, warming up inside. Sweet, sweet, sweet sweet warmth. As I continued forward I kept looking back towards the couple, the lady knocking on all sorts of doors.
“Why did I do that?!” I asked myself aloud. “Why did I do that?”
It primarily had to do with keeping my hands in my warm gloves. I didn’t want to stop my momentum, pull my phone out, search for a cab number, punch the numbers in with my bare fingers, and be a decent, selfless human being. Also, I figured by the time it was all sorted, a bus or two would’ve come by. But then I thought, “What if a bus never comes and this guy loses his ears because I lied about not having a phone?” I had to go back. But I couldn’t just go back and present them with a phone. I couldn’t just say, “Oh geez! Here it is. It was in my back pocket all day and I never knew!” It was okay if they thought that maybe I was a piece of shit but I really didn’t want them to KNOW it was a fact.
When I got back to them the man was still holding his ears. His face was completely red, aside from the large white circles around his eyes. Holy Goddamn. He could die in my arms tonight.
“Did you get a cab? Did you call a cab?”I asked the worried feller. He didn’t seem to understand me so I walked up to the woman who was standing at someone’s door. “I left my phone in my truck. I’ll go there and phone a cab for you.” She looked me up and down. “I can phone for you… in my truck. I have a phone in my truck.”
“Truck?” She looked frustrated and before I could spit out the sentence again she said, “Alright alright alright.”
Then the door of the house we were standing in front of opened, and a man explained that he called them a cab. “I offered them to come inside but they refused.” As he held the door open, announcing his generosity, the lady shoved her way inside and the poor red faced frozen feller came bounding. I slapped him on the back, “Get in there, you.” I said it like we were old pals. “Get inside you crazy goof.”
And that’s how I saved two people from dying.