No… honey, just leave it.
I had a bit of a surreal experience earlier this evening.
I had been out walking around Boston with my brand new camera practicing shooting in different lights. I had spent the afternoon wandering around the well-to-do North End — and after realizing that my clothes were soaked through from the intermittent afternoon rain showers, I knew I needed to head home.
Haymarket Station carries service for both the Green and Orange Lines as well as various different bus routes. In Boston, the busier the station, the higher the likelihood that you’ll encounter more than just the standard office worker on their commute.
The rain had really started coming down, and my attention diverted to the squishy feeling in my shoes as I bolted past the Greenway towards the station. I was so focused on finding a place to perch to empty my shoes that I almost missed him. I could see the feet of someone laying on the ground. Its not unusual to see people sleeping in that area — Haymarket is well-covered and a decent spot to take refuge from the elements. I realized something was wrong only when I took my eyes off the man, and noticed that there were a few pockets of people staring at him mouth agape and looking confused.
I walked closer to see if there was any rise and fall to his chest. I pulled out my phone and asked the crowd, “Has anyone called 9–1–1?” No reply. As I pulled my phone out to dial, I was distracted by an older man who broke away from his family to get a closer look. With an outstretched hand, his wife said, “No… honey, just leave it.”
Just leave it.
I nearly lost my cool. At that point I again yelled at the crowd, “Really?! Has no one called 9–1–1?” Well, luckily while I was being distracted by the “just leave it” someone had called. I had clearly offended them by being so vocal, as when they replied, it was as they were turning to walk away and I got the chastising, “yes, yes we did it” hand wave — you know the one, right?
At this point, there was another concerned young woman there who had stopped. I could tell that she felt as helpless in the situation as I did, and having spotted the security guards standing outside the Boston Public Market (knowing firsthand that they have a pretty direct line to police and rescue), I told her I was running over to get them involved. Ultimately, I’m not sure if it did any good — I just reacted.
By the time I got back over to the station, rescue was within earshot. The other young woman and I waited, the husband eventually walked back over and checked the pulse. The wife begrudgingly checked the other wrist, and once the pulse was found, said, “yeah, he’s got a pulse” and walked away- very clearly displaying her annoyance.
As the paramedics arrived, she made some kind of comment to them about Narcan (implying that she either had medical training and/or knowledge of the hefty overdosing problem in the city), and then took her family and began to walk away. While still within earshot, the middle school-aged son asked what Narcan was, and she brushed him off with just a nickle description of, “it’s for an overdose.”
Lady, your two adolescent children just saw a guy half dead in the street from an overdose. Guided by you, they walked past. They watched you ignore him. They watched you try to pull your husband away. Like little sponges, they soaked up every ounce of negative emotion you threw at that terrible situation.
The drug and overdosing problem in Boston has gotten exponentially worse in recent years. Its to the point where the feel and faces of downtown are quite different than they were two years ago. I’m not going to pretend to know much about the situation, but what I do know is that this problem- and this world- is not going to get better if we adopt an attitude of “just leave it.” Because, bitch “it” is a “he” — and he was laying on the sidewalk in bad way and people were literally stepping over him.
To the people who walked past, to the woman who offered a poor example to her children, and to the group who only dialed 9–1–1 after I guilted them into doing so— shame on you all. How would you have reacted if that was your son? Brother? Uncle? Father?
Ugh. I don’t really have a conclusion here, because I wrote to process — not to specifically tell a story. Just do me a favor and next time you see someone in desperate need — visualize a loved one. If you’re not compelled to act at that point, then…