Hero In A Hard Hat

images-1I was on Carmine Street near the East Village en route to  an appointment.  There’s a fellow in a wheelchair, no more than 30, who sits in front of a variety store.  I’ve seen him before.  He doesn’t ask for money, but clearly it’s his spot all year long.cartoon-wheelchair-007

As I came out of the store buying Tic Tacs, I heard taunting from across the street.  Now for me to hear it so clearly, it was loud.

There were four boys I’d say in their late teens making fun of this guy calling him gimp, bum.  One screamed, “Hey, Willie, who’s gonna change your drawers today.”  I was beside myself with outrage, frozen where I stood.  But oddly enough my natural leanings all set to explode were usurped by a construction worker who abruptly stopped his bulldozer descending as if someone said CUT, like on a movie set.

He climbed down, wiped his hands on his jeans and marched over to this group of boys.

“You think you’re better than that boy just cause you can walk?  I’m talkin to you.  You’re pussies all a’ya.  You couldn’t stand what he goes through every day.”

One unfortunate kid yelled, “Hey fuck you man.”

“Fuck me, you wanna fuck me?” He lunged after this boy grabbing him by his neck shaking him right off the ground.” I remember thinking…would it be tacky if I took a few notes?

The kid in the wheelchair looked horrified.  I went over and said, “This man is great. Look how he’s standing up for you.”

“Yeah, but lady.  He’ll leave and they’ll beat the shit outta me.”  This is where I came in.

I called for the man to stop.  “Please, enough…that’s enough.” Hard Hat looked at me happily opting for manners rather than scorn (I was wearing a dress and kitten heels so my Jackie O’ness prevailed).

“I think these youngsters should be spoken to rather than beaten…I do, so please though I appreciate you standing up more than you know, let them be.”

Who the fuck was I channeling, Gandhi?

He let the kid, who now had a bloody nose, go. “You think talkin ta them will change anything?”

“Well, I see how young they are (I suddenly became their lawyer) and do think a conservation might be more useful.”

I was waiting for a fuck you to come my way, but these boys were scared since now we had three more hard hats behind Hard Hat.

I looked at these kids in all their perfection.  Beautiful bodies in nice jeans and tight Tees showing off chiseled arms.  Then I gazed at the guy in the wheelchair and my heart went.

“You fellas are so lucky,” I said.  “Look at you.  I bet you all play sports, right?”

One guy nodded.

“You see him (pointing to Willie)? He can never play ball, hit a homer, run around the bases like you can.  You should protect him, not make it harder by being cruel.  What would your mothers say if they were here?” (mentioning their mother was like pouring water over their heads).

I handed the kid whose nose was bleeding more napkins.  Hard Hat was standing near me like Luca Brasi ready to kill-em all.

I thought, this is probably going nowhere, but then another kid went and picked up Willie’s Boston Red Soxs cap that had fallen on the ground, handing it to him.

“You’re not even a Yankee fan Willie.”

“Yeah I am, I just ain’t got a hat.”

I don’t know what happened then, but Hard Hat went back to his bulldozer while I walked to the train.

“You have a nice day ma’am,” he said giving me a well worn wink. “and don’t worry about Willie, I got his back.”

Heroes…you never know when you’re going to meet one.

SB

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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22 Responses to Hero In A Hard Hat

  1. micklively says:

    What a wonderful tale. It seems so rare that the strong defend the weak. You’ve given me a warm glow this morning; thanks Susannah.

    Like

  2. Beverly Giangiacomo says:

    Nice story. I bet the next time you see Willie he will have a new Yankees baseball cap! You made a difference in everyone’s lives and perhaps those boys will become defenders of the less fortunate.

    Like

    • They certainly had it in them, but he’s an easy target, especially since he’s become part of the fabric of their neighborhood. I have sadly observed from my own experience, people aren’t aware they’re being cruel. It’s rather stunning but true. There’s an arrogance around the less fortunate. A pity really, since a train could be heading your way unbeknownst to you. Thanks for writing.

      Like

  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    I do hope that kid showed up next day with a Yankee hat for Willie. We can only hope that between you and Hard Hat something broke through those kid’s hard heads.

    Like

  4. Elle Knowles says:

    Such a great story Susannah…You bring out the best in people…even thugs who have no conscience. ~Elle

    Like

  5. Rubenstein, Hal says:

    One of the best you’ve ever done

    Like

  6. Patricia says:

    You should do human interest stories for a newspaper.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great writing, Susannah. Hard Hat is another great character for your novel. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well. I’m on vacation, flitting here and there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can just see you yelling “Don’t let these kitten heels fool ya, I’m badass and I’m not afraid to use it!”
    Sometimes kids need reminders and I’m glad you were there to back up the muscle in the hard hat with some sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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