The contrary wheelchair

Photo by Yunming Wang on Unsplash

I walk happily. I just heard the good news, I see the clouds and the blue sky, I have some new tennis shoes, and I feel them well. I walk south on a minor avenue in the city. I always liked to see people, buildings, doormen, cars, the color of dresses, what the bikes say in their delivery boxes, see the faces of people, in short, I am an observer of life, and I like it.
I walked doing and meditating when I look towards the avenue that goes in the opposite direction to mine. Through the trees that separate us, I see a person, in a wheelchair, alone, pushing himself with one foot, with no one else in sight. Strange situation! I think to myself. I keep walking and keep watching as this person continues to walk in parallel with me, pushing his chair hard — the city does not have adequate access for the disabled, and it is “normal” for a person to walk down an avenue. He was traveling in the inner lane, near the sidewalk.
I kept looking at him intently, and I realized that he started to deviate to the outer lane and, apart from that, began to walk backward. The cars dodged and did not whistle. “Magic realism¨! It is the first thing that occurs to me, and it seemed that nobody cared. I thought to myself that I didn’t want to deal with this, that I didn’t want to do it, why ?, when I’m with good things! why just today? !!!
I realized that the problem was bigger than me, but I still had to do something! It was a critical situation. As I started jogging towards him, I called the police for help to solve the problem.
As I get closer, I realize that he is in pajamas, slippers, and with a splint on his left foot. The pajamas are striped and also have a sleeping gown: the overall set is clean but old. He walks in the opposite direction, and with the wheelchair directed backward by the fast lane, he looks like a beast desperate to get anywhere!
I do not believe what I see. With the phone in my ear, I approach and ask the man calmly if he knows he is in the opposite direction, and all he does is look at me and push himself harder. I keep asking him things: his name if he feels well, and all I see are deep blue eyes, similar to Arctic ice mixed with the color of the sky. He looks at me intently: for a moment, the whole situation is static while I experience the in-depth look of those eyes.
He keeps pushing himself, and I take the wheelchair by the handles, and he immediately gives me a scream and a swipe, which I manage to avoid, while I talk by phone to the police and explain the situation. I ask for help. The operator asks my information, and I answer calmy, questioning myself, what the fuck does thta matter now? While an invalid and crazy person walks in contraband along the avenue, in pajamas. Anyway, I answer, and they ask me for the address, and I give it. We are moving. I am not well ubicated, and giving the address is a bit complicate for me. Even so, I do what I can, the most precise thing my brain gives me. I am trying to stop a wheelchair that goes in the opposite direction, with a person who does not allow himself to be helped, with cars that come towards me, and where I feel alone.
At that moment, the operator tells me that a patrol is coming towards me, and it hangs on me. I remain undaunted. I don’t know how to deal with something like that. I remember that in the U.S., the emergency operator stays with the caller until help arrives, but this is Colombia … here empathy is a very scarce feeling.

I call back and give all my data again. Meanwhile, the older man is going in the right direction of the road, and I can divert cars more efficiently. That gives me a moment to think well and to say to the operator more accurately where I am. In the meantime, the man is still alone, and at a particular moment, he diverts towards a street. At the same time, I continue with the operator telling her where we are: she says to me that a patrol is already coming and going and hanging me. I am stunned. How do they leave me alone in such a situation?
I oversee the madman of the wheelchair, and in a moment, I see that he greets someone. I consider this as one of the signs of his madness: to whom this madman can be greeting? And out of curiosity, I look away to the other side of the avenue. Indeed, there is another person who greets him too. That is too much! I conclude that this walk is so unusual that this wonderful blue-eyed madman has acquaintances in the different corners, and nobody is astonished by what he does. One additional of our Colombian idiosyncrasies: the crazy is normal.
Suddenly the old man “parks” in front of the building, and as if I saw a miracle, he stops and rises from the wheelchair and starts walking. In my amazement, I see that the doorman takes the wheelchair and puts it in, and the man enters the building. My perplexed face must have been incredibly worthy of a viral meme! After an excellent ride challenging the danger, the man stands up from his chair, and quietly enters the building where he lives! I immediately asked the doorman what this was, how was it possible for that person to go out to the park-like this, and why nobody stopped him? He gives me one of the best reasons: Mr. the owner of an apartment, and as a doorman, he cannot block his exit or his entrance. I told him that I could hide his wheelchair. A lady, who also lives in the building, tells me that these “adventures” are frequent in him, that sometimes he goes as far as ten blocks and makes scandals, and smokes pot. The older man is a person who should be in a hospital or a geriatric home, but no! He is in an apartment, living the young years again. In Colombian reality, he is someone who can take a few walks on the run, against, greeting other crazy people, with a smile on their faces as if they were mocking an incoherent society, full of flaws in essential points. I, at that moment, decided that the problem was no longer mine. I told the lady that the police were coming and to say to them what had just happened and to do everything possible so that what happened would not happen again. I know that reasoning was like hitting the water with a sword. Nothing will happen, but at least I said it. And this is another true story, to remember, of our beloved country, “Locolombia.”


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