Friday, March 16, 2018

Small Adventure 57

With the numbers of people in Kagoshima, and especially in the area up around the main train station, it's not too surprising to hear sirens several times a day (and in the middle of the night). However, there is a strangely low amount of police activity in the city (I can go months without seeing a patrol car), and the sirens are almost always for ambulances. This is because of the extraordinary number of people 80 years old and over in Japan, and because there are so many hospitals and clinics in the city. A lot of people here have specific hospitals they want to be taken to if there is an emergency, and there always seems to be an emergency of some kind here.

Even so, I do have to say that I wasn't expecting to see someone collapsed on the sidewalk. I'd been walking up to the main train station one day, and I was approaching the street lights along the stretch leading to the big post office. As I turned the corner of the car rental company parking lot there, I saw two guys kneeling next to a third one. The third was maybe in his 60's or 70's, and very thin. It was a hot, clear day and someone had set up a black umbrella on the ground to shield the guy's head from the sun. One of the women from the car rental company was coming up with a bottle of water she'd bought from their vending machine. One of the two kneeling guys kept asking the old man if he was ok, if he was feeling better, where he was coming from and where he was going, etc., while the old man continued to lay motionless on the sidewalk on his back. I couldn't tell if he was homeless and malnourished, or just a Chinese tourist that had pushed himself too hard for the day.

A small crowd formed at the corner as we waited for the light to turn green, and most of us watched the spectacle from a distance 10 feet away. After a couple minutes, the light changed, and the old man started struggling to sit up. The two kneeling guys helped him up, and I crossed street to go to Amu Plaza; there wasn't anything in particular I could have done to be helpful, so I left to remain out of the way. A little later, I came back from Amu Plaza and the old man and the umbrella were gone, and I didn't see an ambulance. I'm assuming the car rental company charged the guy for the bottle of water.

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