I don't mean to be melodramatic, but this man is back, this time riding the bus late, late at night after I get off my late shift in Psychiatry up at the hospital. What's he doing there so late? Riding the Line 8 around in the middle of the night, nowhere to go, nobody to visit with (except the folks in the ER and the friendly Vet Guards at the V.A.). Seeing him makes me cranky, but only in the sense that I know things aren't getting any better for him
Only in the sense that I want more than anything for things to be better for him.
It's not the first time time we've been re-introduced, and he has no idea who I am any time we meet (which doesn't deter him from sitting next to me every time [not that I mind]). His eyes are fully jaundiced (is that the correct medical way to describe that?), he smells fully pickled, sometimes he makes sense and sometimes it's word salad.
It's getting worse, whatever he has ... the alcoholism, depression, I don't know. I'm not his doctor; not his counselor. He brightens when we talk and I guess that's enough. I think he's slowly dying, in the way that untreated, getting older alcoholics always feel like they're dying. This is not the light-hearted bus humor I usually like to share.
It's just the other thing that happens to me, with regularity, on Public Transit. I hope he still has his apartment, hope he still has his case manager and I still hope (against hope) that something Super Big happens and he makes it.
Really makes it.
And I hope I continue to ask about his well-being with sincerity, void condescending paternalism. But in all honesty, I feel like I'm nearing that line ... that there's a little too much sympathy and too much clucking in my voice ... that I'm losing the ability to be genuinely concerned and gaining the ability to front with him.
As if I'm the one who has it bad.
I hope the road turns for you, Randy. Even just a little bit. Even just slightly. Ever so slightly.
Either way, I'll see you on the 8.
I hope you have some new jokes for me next time.
You usually do.