Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Churro Man

Outside AT&T park--The first pitch is about to happen!
The biggest regret of my night: I bought a churro from a man covered in sweat for $4.75. I couldn’t resist the temptation. The churro was a massive 18-20 inches in length, and the sugar glowed, bounding and reflecting off of the stadium lights perched just beyond my peripheral vision. The Churro Man wore a duffle bag—presumably full of churros—across his chest. Sweat dripped down his forehead in a string of pearly beads. His expression never faltered, although it was obviously that he was outwardly tired. The Churro Man wore a slightly dangerous and deranged look upon his face—I guess he really needed to sell those churros. Waving the sugary treat violently above his head, he presented it to AT&T Park as if it was an award to be won, and I desperately wanted to win it.

What more could I have asked for? Crazy, yelling man with food? Check. Giants playing ball in the background? Check. Friends to my left and to my right? Check. And you know what I asked for? A damn churro. I wanted that churro so badly, I even had to borrow money from Kevin. $1.75 to be exact. The beer and mound of garlic covered fries that I bought right before the first pitch burned a whole in my pocket. The overly priced ballpark food didn’t have a chance—I felt the loss of my hard-earned money before I felt the hungry void disappear. So, as the Churro Man quickly approached, I responded to his fast, loud pace with an even faster loud pace. He was only two steps away when I yelled, "Hey! How much?"

1,000's squish to witness the last Tuesday
Night Game of the 2011 season.
I wrapped the long sugary concoction between my fingers. Oh how I admired the glow and sparkle of my new purchase. Layers upon layers of sugar coated the fried dough like a winter coat. I shook the churro, and the churro shook all over me. I then shook the churro closer to the ground, and then brushed the sugary coat off my lap. I silently thanked the churro for finding me during the last Tuesday night Giants game in San Francisco. 

It was about that time that I heard someone behind me say, "is there a nurse or doctor around?" The voice repeated the question again, “is there a nurse or doctor around?” Naturally curious, I looked around for the problem.  A few seats down and a little over to my left, there was an elderly gentleman having a seizure. Of course, after the announcement was made, doctors and nurses seemingly mass-produced. By any means, the man was not alone, but not much can be done to help someone when seizing. All you can do is stand by their side and make sure they don’t hurt anyone—or more importantly, hurt themselves.  Many stood and kneeled around him until he was ready to be helped.

The elderly man, didn’t seemed to be panicked or worried, and I was pleased to see that people stood by him in his time of need. Regardless, however, I was disturbed by the situation. I was disturbed by how unmoved the crowd was. Someone’s life was being changed, altered, and people were cheering about a ball being tossed around.  Of course, it would be impractical for thousands of people to rush to this man’s side—that would have looked ridiculous—but more consideration and compassion could have gone a long way.

Could it be possible that the baseball game was more important than the health and well being of this man?  I even admit—I was no better than my surrounding counterparts.  I had my churro. I had my friends. I had my game. Consciously or unconsciously—I chose to pay more attention to the field that a man in desperate need of assistance.  I would glance down momentarily every now and again, but just like the people gathered tightly around me, the baseball game would eventually become my focus again. To further my point, the mild interest of the man’s illness didn't travel much farther than 5-10 seats. That evening, all of our lives intersected in one location—AT&T Stadium. Everyone sat tightly together adding to the spirit and fervor of the crowd. When someone couldn’t participate, however, they were unintentionally separated from the event that drove everyone to the same intersection.

The 3 Replacements sitting in seats below:
Yellow cap man in the center.
I felt selfish. I felt selfish for having my churro, and I felt selfish for having my health. I felt selfish for not needing to be helplessly walked out of the stadium. I felt selfish that my biggest regret for that evening was questioning the health status of my sugary churro.  As the churro, not mere minutes later, dwelled in the pit of my stomach, I wondered if the uneasy feeling in my gut was the result of the sugar or the selfishness I felt.

Eventually, a paramedic/emt and a few friends escorted the elderly man out of the stadium.  His face appeared worn and tired, and walking seemed to be no easy task. The man swayed on his feet as if he was just learning how to walk. With each slow, shaky step, he leaned on the paramedic/emt with his remaining strength. And just like that he was gone. The man passed by me, and walked out of my life. Who would have guessed, though, that mere moments later, a new crowd would swoop in quickly to take his place.

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