Standing Too Far

“Should’ve gotten a haircut last weekend.”

Another regret reared its irritating head as cool ferocious breeze threw his sharp hairdo into a mess.

Momentary frown appeared on his forehead.

He liked things a certain way. It was quite apparent – properly pressed and tucked in button down shirt, matching dress pants with well-defined crease, neither too short nor too long necktie, an expensive jacket, and decently combed hair – though not anymore.

He was positioned a good seven or eight steps away from the small queue. Maybe he didn’t want anyone to ruin his cultured appearance. Breeze already wasn’t playing friends with him this morning.

There were only a few people at the bus stop today.

His eyes wandered for a quick scan. The middle aged lady who lived next door. The teenager who had been bunking school since last Tuesday to go somewhere. The single mom from his neighborhood who worked two jobs. An elderly stranger, accompanied by two little kids, carrying more weight than he should at that age.

“Kids! Parents spend obscene sums of money on their education only for them to grow up to be ungrateful degenerates. I’m never having kids.”

Judgment in his thought was overwhelming.

“Why can’t they be normal? Grateful and respectful towards what they’ve been given.”

Prejudice got even stronger.

“Look at him! Carefree ignorant buffoon bobbing his head on some crappy music while his parents work their behinds off to provide for him.”

His train of thought continued.

But before his mind could grind more wheels, a loud thud and subsequent commotion snapped him out of his zone.

The old man had dropped the bag and fallen down on the pavement succumbing to the excessive weight. Kids were staring with their eyes widened as his belongings scattered all over the place.

“I should help! But what if groceries damage my precious jacket?”

Tug of war between kindness and materialism had started.

“I think I should help! What if his dirty hands stain my shirt?”

War was real.

“Old man needs help! But he stinks too! What if his smell got all over me?”

Materialism was turning into paranoia.

Whilst thoughts came and went in his confused head, the teenager hurried towards the elderly guy, helped him get up on his feet, asked if he was fine and started picking up his stuff from the ground.

Old man seemed quite shaken. His lips moved as though trying to say something.

“Don’t worry! I know where everything goes in the pills box. I’ve been spending time with my grandpa at the old home couple of blocks down the road.”

Assurance in teenager’s words appeared to have worked. Old man looked relieved.

“I should’ve tried to help.”

There was conscience. Somewhere. Trying to reconcile itself with inaction.

“Old man got the help he needed.”

Suddenly it was results that mattered, not personal responsibility.

“I was standing too far, anyway.”

He nodded and looked satisfied with himself. Everything was fine again.





© Shameelkazi 2023
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