Life My Walk to Work
posted by September 14 at 16:20 PMon
So… uh… if you were walking to work and saw someone throwing a rope over the limb of a tree, clearly about to hang themselves, or preparing to jump from the Aurora Bridge… do you say something? Anything? “Hey, man—sure you wanna do that?” Or do you walk on by?
Heading in to work this morning I passed a young woman—late teens, early 20s—on the street. She was clearly anorexic. She looked like someone in a photo taken at a Nazi concentration camp after liberation—if, uh, people in concentration camps had blonde pony tails, iPods, and pink work-out suits hanging from their emaciated bodies. And it was anorexia—she wasn’t suffering from leukemia or breast cancer or a brain tumor. People reduced to skin and bones by cancer don’t go out running. If it was cancer, she would have been in a bed in a hospital, morphine dripping into her veins, not out exercising.
She was anorexic, starving herself to death, committing suicide.
Should I have said something? “Hey, can I buy you some breakfast? A bagel or six?” I didn’t, of course, because… it would have been rude. And considering the prerequisite mental damage that anorexia requires, it would have been futile. Maybe a single comment from a stranger—“Sure you wanna do that?”—can convince someone not to jump off a ledge or a bridge, but can a single comment enough to save someone disciplined and determined enough to starve herself to death? Kinda doubt it.
Still, you hear that anorexics believe they’re fat, and that they walk around thinking that everyone that looks at them thinks they’re fat. But what if every person an anorexic walked past said, “Jesus, you’re skinny! Eat something!” Or, “Can I get you a sandwich?” Would that help? Would it hurt? Have no effect at all?
All I know for sure is that I felt terrible all morning, like I passed someone preparing to jump off a bridge and I didn’t have the courage—the simple human decency—to say, “Hey, you sure you wanna do that?”