Driving home tonight down Rainier Avenue
I saw a man in a light blue suit pushing a shopping cart
containing a sleeping bag (among other things)
into traffic. He wanted to cross. In the middle of Friday
traffic. I stopped as he wended his way around cars.
When he got in front of my car, instead of continuing on
to the curb, he decided to turn his cart 45 degrees and
continue down Rainier in front of me. My first inclination
was to open my window and yell. Then the "C" word
popped into my head: Compassion. I thought: quite possibly
everything this man owns is in that shopping cart. That sleeping
bag is most likely his bed. And the blue suit, well, it was a good fit.
He kept motioning back to me with his hand, like, "just hold on,
I'm busy." When I thought about it, I was really in no particular rush
to get home to my comfortable house and the glass
of red wine, pizza, shaved parmesan on my salad could wait.
A reasonable guess was that he was homeless, perhaps mentally ill.
After a few moments, he turned his cart to the curb, bumped it up
onto the sidewalk, and I continued on my way home,
in my fuel-efficient car, my cell-phone at the ready,
certain of a bed, a meal, a well-stocked refrigerator,
a lock on every door.
O fragile universe!