On Saturday, September 24th 2016 I was walking home from the local DVD rental shop. I didn’t rent anything because there was nothing new that interested me. At 7:00 p.m. it was already dark. The day was muggy and it had been raining all afternoon. By 7 o’clock it was only spitting rain, but it was muggy and the pavement was wet. As I approached the intersection at the bottom of my hill - the intersection of Nakano dori and Hongo dori, just meters north of the Kanda River - I saw a traffic back-up on the street that I couldn’t explain. But when I reached the intersection I saw the reason. There had been an accident involving a motor scooter. One helmeted man was lying on the pavement almost in the middle of the intersection and another man (without helmet) was supporting his body and holding his head - cradling him. Policemen were standing around with illuminated batons directing traffic. An ambulance hadn’t arrived yet, but I could hear a siren in the distance. There did not appear to be a car at the roadside with police officers interviewing a driver, so I thought maybe the scooter driver had lost control and crashed in the dark, on the wet pavement. Was the other guy - the one holding him - a passenger or just a Samaritan? I don’t like standing around gawking at other people’s misfortune, but I crossed the street just a meter or so from the prostrate figure and waited on the far corner until the ambulance arrived. Then I turned and walked home about 80 meters up the hill.
Later, I saw another injured man on the afternoon on Saturday, October 1st. I was shopping at the 100-yen shop up the hill on Nabeyoko Street. Walking home I passed an older man on the street at the edge of the sidewalk. He was on the street pavement, though. I looked at him the same way I scan many faces of people I pass on the street. There was something odd about him, so I did a double take and realized that his face and hands were covered in blood. Bright red blood. He appeared to have a gash on his head. Obviously he had had an accident. Did he fall down? Was he hit by a bicyclist or motorist? Did he tumble off his own bicycle onto the hard pavement? There was no stopped vehicle with a guilty occupant trying to help him. Instead, a worker from a nearby supermarket, dressed in his supermarket apron, came out to him with a roll of paper towels to wipe off blood and staunch the flow from his scalp, I guess, and he stood with him there at the edge of the street. No one else seemed to be paying attention. I knew an ambulance had been called because I could hear it in the distance and getting closer. The supermarket worker waved his arms to the ambulance. I watched all this from an out-of-the-way recessed position I took to watch the scene. But I left after the ambulance arrived.
We need one another. To survive we depend on each other. Shit happens, and everyone needs help now and again. Not only help in times of need, but just some kindness and indulgence every day. That’s what it takes to live together in society with other people, people we might despise. Life is fragile. Life is short. We should help each other through it with a helping hand.