2.26.2007

Being Someone Else

The black canvas bag sat pressed against the walkstreet wall, top open and displaying its contents to the sky as if waiting for someone. I walk up cautiously, look around, expect an owner to be hovering near by. But I am alone. I hesitate to touch the bag. What if someone appears and thinks I am a thief rummaging for booty?

The street remains silent and the bag calls, so I bend down and tentatively push around the visible contents looking for a wallet or some identification. A walkie-talkie lays inside with a strip of orange tape sporting ‘Glam’ penned in black Sharpie. I pick it up, push a few buttons, but total silence. I imagine the bag having been grabbed off a messenger’s bike, rifled through, and left for dead.

I figure there is little I can do, so I stand and continue towards my home thinking, ‘Someone else will take care of this.’ But then I think, ‘Someone else? Aren’t I someone else?

I run inside my home, grab my dog awaiting his walk, and head back out. Facing the bag once again, I further study its contents. Hair tape, sewing kit, boxes of safety pins, fabric pouches. I think, ‘Make up and hair person.

I step away from the bag and move towards the Venice beachside boardwalk, my eyes scanning for evidence of a film crew. A few blocks north, production trucks stand gathered in a parking lot. I go into a slow jog dragging my dog with me.

“Hey,” I say, arriving next to a location trailer. “Did anyone here lose a black bag, probably hair and make up, with a walkie-talkie inside? One that said ‘Glam’ on it?”

“Let me ask,” the crewmember says, and disappears into the trailer. A second later he yells across me to a woman on my left. Suddenly she’s at my elbow.

“Yeah, the bag’s ours,” she says.

“Well, it’s down on my walkstreet if it’s still there. I’ll show you.”

She grabs a bike to get there in a hurry, and I start running beside her, rushing my Chihuahua who’d really like to stop for a pee. I point out my street, and she races off.

When I arrive on my block, she’s huddled over the bag. “Well, the cellphone’s gone, but it seems like everything else is here.” She thanks me enormously, scratches her name and number onto a piece of paper in case I discover the cellphone, throws the bag over her shoulder, and hops back on her bike and pedals away.

It was so simple.

When immediate danger calls, conscience and instinct kick in and we race into burning buildings, call 911, gather around an injured stranger. But when confronted by an inconvenient, non-emergency – the abandoned possession, the driver stuck by the side of the road – we call up the imagined ‘someone else.’ It’s easy not to stop and slow our pace of life.

But this time I did stop and was rewarded with satisfaction for reaching into a stranger’s life and lending a hand. I breathe in being someone else, and in the future will listen very differently if my mind tells me, ‘Someone else will take care of it.


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13 comments:

QT said...

So often have I been the beneficiary of kindnesses like this - left behind sunglasses, jackets, dropped cash. People really are kind. Kudos to you!

Cover Your Mouth said...

Sadly, these days when I see an abandoned bag in a public place, I pray silently that it doesn't blow up until someone nearby, who'd just put it down to rest for a bit, finally slings it back over their shoulder and then I think, "You asshole! You can't just leave a bag unattended in this day and age!" Damn terrorists have ruined me. I admire your groundedness.

work in progress said...

Doesn't it make you wonder why the world is so full of strife when something as simple as helping someone find their bag makes you feel so good inside?

Deezee said...

QT, I see myself more as the recipient of this gift than the giver - this the power of the experience.

Cover, If I see a bag abandoned in a crowded area, I react exactly as you do!

WIP, I do examine how something so simple creates this connection...very much points to our difficult times.

-- deezee

Emily said...

You probably made that person's day too...she's probably telling friends how bad her day was until someone showed up with her missing bag. :)
Sometimes in those situations it's just hard to know what to do...leave the bag, take it in, look for someone...there is no 911 to call for these little things.

Bice said...

You're stockpiling some good karma these days.

jen said...

oooohhh. i liked this. i really liked this. what you did, of course, but the way you wrote it and for the larger social context, well, it's smacking, sister.

smacking.

Not-faint-hearted said...

And how would the world be different if we could all see ourselves as the "someone else" more often.

Brilliantly written. Thanks.

kristen said...

my first inclination like yours, would be to think of someone else taking care of it. but it's always my hope that someone would do the same for me.
i'm glad you intervened.

MsLittlePea said...

I'm always thinking 'someone else will take care of it.' I bet she was so relieved.

Margaret said...

I love that someone wrote "glam" with asharpie on orange tape.

Jurgen Nation said...

I wish more people did this. Kudos to you! I really loved reading this; it makes me feel good there there are truly kind people out there. Sadly, no one has ever done this for me (Person Who Stole My Watch, I'm talking to YOU), but just the same, I'm glad nice people are out there. :)

madness rivera said...

Ah, you're up early too I see.

I was kinda nervous reading this. I'm so suspicious! I love how the woman put you on the search party for the cellphone. "Find all my things now!"