May
26
2006

  Man On the Street

I stepped out of the 4/5 line Wall St station onto Broadway. I was making my way toward the office when I suddenly noticed tons of cops standing around. I looked over and not two inches off the curb were a man's feet--the man was lying face down on the street, his feet crossed and I presume bound, his hands cuffed behind his back.

And the cops were all standing around joking wih each other, as if there wasn't a man bound face down at their feet. The suspect wasn't moving at all, but based on the cops' nonchalance I presumed the guy was just sleeping.

Up until then I thought I was having a bad day, I don't even remember why now. I'm sure something along the line of I didn't sleep well the night before, I had to clean up a hairball, the bus was late.

I don't know what the suspect did to warrant his arrest and subsequent position on the pavement, but I realized that HE was having a bad day.

I wondered what had happened to him to cause him to arrive at this moment. Woke up hungover, realized he was late for work, his girlfriend screaming at him as he hurried out of the house. His regular subway line was closed so he had to run 7 blocks to catch another making him even more late to work. He arrives downtown, but his boss fires him since it was the third time this month he was too late. The guy is so stressed out since he needs the money to take care of his kids, and he blows up at his boss, throws a punch and then security comes and a melee ensues. The man escapes, but the cops have already been called. Someone spots him and chase him Down the street, he's in a panic running running but there are cops surrounding him in every direction and he's caught on Broadway. Exhausted, he submits and takes a nap on the pavement so he can have a break from the stress and anxiety in his life.

Then I realized that it could've been me there in the street under the eyes of strangers. I imagine the trajectory of my day would likely be different from that man's, but I could still end up in his current situation. When I am extremely tired and stressed out and upset I can make bad decisions, too. All it would take in NYC is innappropriate behavior on a bus, in a subway car, in any crowded public place, coupled with a grouchy and belligerant attitude toward the cops.

So I really empathized with the suspect, and sincerely wished that things would be better for him tomorrow.