When I heard “Somebody help me!” from an old blind man on the corner of 24th and Eighth at a sidewalk detour, I did not hesitate to link arms. Swept up in my own philanthropy, I forgot that I was still decked out in last night’s rave attire, tiny purple and blue ripped denim shorts and an “I ♥ NY” crop top.
I led him through the maze of the construction walkway while he released whispering “thank yous,” almost inaudible by his dry breath and chapped lips. I thought our journey ended when the maze brought us back onto 25th Street.
“O.K. now! We’re all set!” I patted his back.
“Twenty-seven. I have to go to 27th Street.”
My train at Penn was in 20 minutes. I’ve seen snails on beaches move with greater acceleration, but morality overcame rationality. “O.K., 27th Street it is.”
As our journey continued, people started to notice the unusual couple. I became more conscious of my skin showing through my gauzy outfit, pressing tightly against this stranger, whose odor and heavy breathing nauseated me with the thought, “What if he isn’t even blind?”
We arrived at 27th Street. “Here we are, my friend,” I said, less enthusiastically.
“Fifth Avenue!” he said, followed by a low “Mmmmmm” humming noise.
“Listen buddy, we agreed on 27th Street, I have a train to catch.” I had to free myself, and when I did, I didn’t feel like a girl scout anymore. I continued alone to 28th Street. Behind me I heard him holler, “Somebody help me!”