The angel theory
On Monday, November 19, 2012 I was walking home along Nakano Dori. On the far side of the street I saw an old, blind woman standing on the sidewalk with her hand extended. She wore dark glasses and carried a white cane. She was standing on the yellow bumps that are built into sidewalks and train station platforms as guides for the blind. Was she trying to hail a taxi? She was standing a little too far from the curb for that. I saw several taxis drive by her. Was she indicating that she wanted to cross the street and waiting for someone to offer to help her? I saw several people, young and middle aged walk by and ignore her. I worried that she wanted to cross the street and that she would try to do it by herself and get hit. So I stood still and watched her a little. Finally I decided that, even though I don’t speak Japanese I would try to help her. So I crossed the street and backtracked a little to her position. I said (in Japanese),
“Hello. I’m a foreigner and I don’t speak much Japanese. Do you want to cross the street?”
“I want a taxi,” she said.
So I said, “Okay. Wait just a moment.”
There are lots of taxis all the time going here and there. All you have to do is wait and wave one down when you see them. At the intersection further down the hill I saw a taxi tucked in behind a bus in the oncoming traffic, so I waved it down when it got close and helped the lady into it.
“Be careful,” I said.
Then I walked back up the hill to return to a place where I could quickly cut across the street. I thought the taxi with the old lady in it would pass me but it didn’t. I looked back and it was already gone. While my back was turned it must turned at the corner immediately where she had been standing. Either that or they both evaporated, like angels who visited the Earth to test my compassion and then disappeared after their job was done. I like to believe the angel theory.