Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Man Down

As I walked in this morning it was quite pleasant. Not as cold as I was led to believe as I listened to the radio before I left home. Maybe because there was no wind it seemed warmer. I would have guessed it was about -1 or -2, not the -8 that had been stated. The announcer on CBC’s Morning Side Radio Program said that it was slippery under the light dusting of snow, so I was careful as I stepped, firmly planning each step, watching the terrain underfoot. Even so, a couple of times as my attention was diverted elsewhere, I almost fell – but I am getting good now of throwing my arm up into the snowboarders stance and regaining balance. So, no falls for me.

Not so lucky was the guy I briefly shared the sidewalk with on my way in. He came out of the condo building at Portland and Front. He was a tall man wearing a black toque, long black coat, and black trousers with a black backpack slung over one shoulder. He had a black beard. He himself was black. He cut across the street onto Front St., just in front of me.

As we walked along he was slightly ahead of me and he momentarily diverted to look into a storefront window at the lighting store. I started to walk past him as he returned to his journey. Suddenly, his foot caught on a clump of ice on the sidewalk and he lost balance momentarily. His arms went up in a flapping bird motion (I always found the surfer boy motion to be more effective, myself) as he struggled to regain his balance. I could feel his relief in catching his fall, as his eye caught mine in a look of triumph.

With that, his next step caught another piece of ice and the battle with the forces of gravity began anew. This time he realized there was no saving his fall and down he went like a tree felled by an axe man. Arms splayed out front, flat on his belly, he lay still for just a moment. I uttered the requisite “Oh God! Are you alright?” The man pulled himself upright slowly in silence, as he winced in pain. “I hope you didn’t break anything”, I offered sympathetically. He didn’t reply but started slowly brushing off the snow which now coated his entire front - from pant leg to toque.

I turned and continued my walking; leaving him to lick his wounds and to regain his dignity I stepped even more carefully as I walked at a good clip along Front Street. It had started snowing not long before I left home and it had steadily worsened as I did my 25 min hike to work. Now the sky had that white/grey look as the snow descended in earnest.

As I approached Spadina Ave. the light was red and I had to wait. The man caught up with me. He still was full of snow, now front and back, as the snowfall had coated his outer garments with a white glaze. He looked me in the eye and shook his head. I could almost hear him say, “God, what a way to start a day!”. He was not pleased. As the light changed, I continued my fast walking pace and left him walking a bit slowly and for sure very carefully.

I was glad my day had not begun like his had. I thought for a moment about turning back to him and asking permission for a photo for my blog. I chuckled to myself and wished I had the guts, but at least I knew what today’s blog topic would be.

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