Valentine's Day - Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023
Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 @ 9:47 am
I’m late for work, and the bicycle that I signed out to ride to the train station is clunky. I push against the pedals to try to overcome the heavy friction of the unmaintained drivetrain. The bicycle seat is wet, and so the seat of my pants is also wet. I’m overdressed and starting to overheat.
I roll through a stop sign in an empty intersection under a bridge. I notice a pile of clothes on the corner.
As I pass through the intersection, I look more closely at the pile of clothes. The shapes resolve in my brain, and I realize that there is a set of pale, white, naked buttocks amongst the heap of drab fabric.
I keep riding, processing what I just saw. Excuses start to pop up in my head: I’m late, it’s a man, I’m not equipped to deal with this, I have no narcan kit, other people must have checked on him, he’s probably okay, what if he’s violent…
Three seconds later, I make a U-turn. He is a human in distress. I don’t want to be so jaded that I disregard someone’s life, no matter how exhausting it may seem in this city that is at a crisis point.
As I’m riding back towards him, a runner goes right past, not even pausing to look. This is what we’ve become. I’m living in an apocalyptic world where we pass by people laying on the ground that appear dead, and we do nothing.
I ride up to him, not too close, circling the bike but not stopping.
“Hey,” I say.
He moves. He lurches up.
He’s alive. His skin colour indicates circulation.
I continue circling and guide my bike back onto my route to work.
Suspended under the bridge at that intersection is an enormous illuminated chandelier, a bourgeois art installation that is understandably controversial. The man lays there under the bridge, seeking shelter from the rain, and above, at noon, four, and nine pm, the chandelier lowers and spins, a gaudy and whimsical display of wealth and privilege.