Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr. H.

Oyster Shells at Public Landing, Onemo

It's a good thing I left early for work yesterday.

I had an extra ten minutes and for no particular reason, since ordinarily I'd just waste the spare time on the internet, I opted to leave a little early instead.  No sooner had I driven past Mathews Chapel than a most peculiar sight appeared--peculiar even by Mathews County standards.  We have a very high tolerance for peculiar around here.

A man was sitting on the side of the road, on the shoulder, dangerously close to oncoming traffic.  

At first I thought he was looking for something, particularly since he shifted between his hands and knees to a sitting position.  But he had no car.  And he didn't appear to be in any hurry to get up or move. He just sat there, staring off at nothing.

Cars were whizzing by him a mile a minute, so I pulled over.

He had his back to me as I approached him, asking, "Hello?  Are you OK?"

No response.

I walked around and faced him.  Squatting down in my high heels and work clothes, as the wind from the passing cars whipped my face, I looked him squarely in the eyes and asked, "Sir, are you OK?"

Clearly disoriented, he grabbed his chest and mumbled something unintelligible.

"Hold on a minute, don't move, let me run back and get my phone."

I dialed 911.

"Hi, I'm calling on behalf of a man I found on the side of Route 198.  He is complaining of a pain in his chest and appears disoriented."

Nice Dispatcher on the Other End:  "How old is he?"
CBW:  "I don't know, about 60?"
CBW to man, "Sir, how old are you?"
Man:  "Well, let's see.  I was born about 1908."

Now, CBW wasn't born yesterday, and although she is no good with numbers and math, even she was taken aback by this answer, and his next statement.

Man:  "I'm 83."
CBW:  (Speechless.) He couldn't have been 83. If he were, CBW was getting ready to quit her day job because clearly this man was going to lead her to the Fountain of Youth and she'd become instantly rich! He did not appear close to 83 years old--but no matter what he was not born in 1908.
Man:  "No, wait a second. I'm 73. I was born in 1928."
CBW:  "OK, he says he was born in 1928 and he's 73."

Even though that math didn't add up either, it was getting a little warmer. Close enough, as I like to say.

Nice Dispatcher:  "What's his name?"
CBW: " What's your name, sir?"
To protect the individual, I will use a fictitious name.
Man:  "Kevin Charles Hale.  My twin brother and I were named after Theodore Roosevelt."

Now, CBW doesn't know a whole lot, but she knows that the name that man gave her had absolutely nothing to do with Teddy Roosevelt or any other president, vice president, governor or senator, for that matter. She began to smell something a little fishy in the state of Denmark vicinity of Cobbs Creek.

CBW to Dispatcher: "He's a little disoriented, but this is the name he gave me:  Kevin Charles Hale.
(In a hushed tone...) He says he was named after Teddy Roosevelt."
Dispatcher:  "OK, I"m sending the ambulance now."

CBW: to Mr. H.:  "The ambulance is coming."
Mr. H.:  "I won't have to pay, will I?"
CBW:  "We need to make sure you're OK.  We need the medical folks to check you out."
What CBW wanted to say:  "Lord, how lucky I am to have health insurance. If I ever find myself alone and disoriented on the side of the road, a hair away from oncoming traffic, I hope my biggest worry is not how I'm going to pay for a trip to the hospital."

As he sat there and I stooped (in my work clothes and heels, may I reiterate) on the side of the Autobahn Route 198, with cars whizzing by us not even slowing down to see what was going on, I engaged him in some conversation.

He said he was retired from the railroad.  Was from Roanoke.  Apologized and said he didn't normally dress like this. (He was dressed just fine, all things considered.) Some friends he was "leery of" dropped him off.  He'd been walking. But nothing was wrong with him.  Peppered throughout this conversation, though, were some very odd remarks, which were neither here nor there but were enough to let me know something was really wrong with him.

When I steered the conversation back to his physical ailment and reminded him what he said about the chest pain, he then said, "No, not chest pain.  I couldn't breathe." Then he proceeded to say he was just fine.

Except you're sitting here on the side of the road conversing with me as if we were sitting in a coffee shop, I thought to myself.

He really wanted to talk more, and I actually wanted to hear more (my hour-long commute and impending work day notwithstanding), but about this time the ambulance pulled up.

CBW, aside, to the nice young ambulance worker:  "Now he's changed his story and says he didn't have chest pain.  Says he couldn't breathe.  Was saying a few very peculiar things too. I'm afraid he might need attention, but it might not be medical attention for anything physical."
Nice Young Ambulance Worker: "Did he say anything about the FBI?"
CBW:  "Not yet but it was only a matter of time."
NYAW:  "Mumble mumble - CBW couldn't hear because she was trying to focus on the conversation between the other two paramedics and Mr. H. - mumble.. escape from psych ward."
CBW:  "I just couldn't leave him here on the side of the road so close to the oncoming traffic and wanted to make sure he was OK."
Paramedic to Mr. H.:  "Let's get you checked out, sir," and they helped him off the ground.
CBW to Mr. H., touching his hand as they walked him to the ambulance:  "Good luck, Mr. H."

And off she drove to work where she was only five minutes late.

I don't know what happened to Mr. H., but I sincerely hope he is OK and that he has some very patient family members able to take care of him.

At least that's what I hope.

The End.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like Watergate reincarnated.

Good for you for stopping no telling what would have happened if you had driven on by.

Watergate now he was a character!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Watergate was most definitely a character, a legend even. We grow quite the bumper crop of characters around here, but this particular gentleman is a new one, at least to me. I just hope he's OK and that he has someone to take care of him.

In re-reading parts of this, I realize I made it sound as though we have all sorts of traffic here in Mathews, which of course isn't true except during Market Days and the bicycle event in the spring and even then it's confined to the court house area usually.

However those cars that *were* on the road at that hour were flying by, not even slowing down and not giving us any room. It was challenging to say the least.

Bethie said...

Good for you and Mr. H. that you stopped. I think it was extremely kind and utmost respectful.

AverettLadyNana said...

I haven't read this posting yet but the picture brought huge smile to my face! I LOVE IT!!! Nothing I love better than a pile of oyster shells! I have picture of my Daddy, Granddaddy, and Mr. Nuttall standing in front of a pile building up back in the day of my granddaddy's oyster house down Williams Wharf. Hangs in my kitchen with some other pics from the oyster house days and some of his boats.

Now going back to read your posting! Love your blog takes me on a trip down memory lane and a fast trip back home while in my comfy chair.

AverettLadyNana said...

What a good thing you did! Hope he is doing better. You most likely saved his life when you called for help for him.

Daryl said...

You are a truly amazing person, I doubt there are many people who would have stopped (I would but then I am a yenta/nosey parker - I dont even know where that expression came from) but it would make an excellent episode in the online web series we must produce about Mathews and of course the Blisters

I suspect Mr H was twaxid (WV)

Linda said...

There is a very special place in Heaven for people like you. Nicely done.

Maria_NJ said...

I agree with Daryl, you are amazing! I would have stopped too, I would have pulled over to the side of the road and called 911, but I would have stayed in my locked car. I guess I have lived in the city too long, never know what could happen. I hope to someday live in a place where things are safe and you can trust people...someday

I went crabbing yesterday with my sis and my nephew and 2 of my 3 kids...we were out there from 11am to 4 pm sooo much fun...we got about a dozen and a half "keepers" we had basket nets and just hand lines, the hand lines were the most fun. Made my delicious "garlic crabs" and my sister and her son stayed for dinner. But still thinking how grand to just go down to your "little piece of Heaven" off the Chesapeake Bay and throw in a crab pot and come back several hours later to a full lot!!!

Maria_NJ said...

and Linda too!!

Linda said...

I can't stop thinking about this man. If you find out any news of him will you share it please? Thanks:)

Anonymous said...

I love this story. Although none of us are perfect, each and every member of our family has stopped on more than one occasion to help someone or something on the side of the road. Most of the time it's a cat or a dog, or even watergate...this is why I love my family! Well, one reason anyway.

Baby Sis

Dghawk4 said...

In Charleston, WV where I was raised there was a man who lived on the streets that everyone called Aqualung (like in Jethro Tull's Aqualung). One day he got his shopping cart stuck in a storm drain as he was crossing the street. I helped him get it unstuck and all he said was, "Bless you." What a wonderful and brave thing you did. They say there are Angels here on earth that walk among us, and you are truely one of those Angels. So to you I say, Bless you.

Anonymous said...

That was such a nice thing for you to do! As crazy as I am getting to work in the mornings, I may not even have noticed him. You are a good "Mathews" girl! By the way, I think you are right...Watergate is a legend. I remember him well!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hey, thank you all for your kind words.

To me there was no choice in the matter, I had to stop. He clearly needed help and had I driven by I would have been miserable with worry and regrets. As it stands, I'm still a little worried and wonder what happened to him, and if he has anyone to take care of him, but at least I know I did all I could to help given the circumstances.

He's the sort of person I'd like to visit, if I ever knew where he lived (and exactly what his issues are and what sort of support system he has).

As for angels, for all I know *he* was the angel. There wasn't a mean bone in his body. Yes, he was a bit unusual, and yes, he was clearly disoriented. But all he really wanted was someone to talk to, someone to listen, and I think he felt the only way to get that was to just plop down on the side of the road. He just gave up and plopped down, right there on the side of 198.

If I am able to find out more I'll share it.

I just keep hoping he has someone here (or wherever he lives) who can help him.

Thanks again for reading and commenting. It means a great deal.

Kay L. Davies said...

Wow, trust you to stop and get into a really interesting (if somewhat convoluted) conversation.
I hope he's okay. As in, I hope he is still alive thanks to your efforts. I don't mean okay as in completely compos mentis.
-- K