Stuck with the Point

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

Stuck with the Point

Ted’s commute to work had been rather tame, to say the least.  Granted, there was the man next to him that smelled a bit too much like alcohol for eight in the morning, but as long as he kept his hands to himself, Ted was content to give him his own space.  Everyone had plenty of elbow room, no one’s headphones were blaring obnoxiously; Ted was free to simply zone out and stare out the window.

As always, Ted did his best to take in the scenic world that surrounded him.  The morning clouds still obscured much of the skyline, but Ted took comfort in knowing that behind all those cumulus clouds there were miles of mountains covered in feet of snow.  The weather was cooperating, even if it was taking its time in doing so.  Still, the amount of blue overhead was slowly overtaking the white.

The bus pulled off the freeway and made its way through downtown Seattle.  Ted looked at the famous tourist trap and mentally registered a checkmark of annoyance.  True to its past, the Space Needle had gotten all dressed up for a special occasion.  When a famous game show had been in town, the Space Needle had adorned a giant wheel on its top.  During a former sports season, a giant baseball had somehow withstood high winds long enough to grab everyone’s attention as it sat on the roof. Now, in order to fit in with its neighbors, the Space Needle had painted the top of its structure orange to reflect the color it had been when it was first constructed fifty years ago.

Ted had long since grown immune to most of the tourist areas that surrounded his work.  He often walked past the monuments several times a day and so became numb to their appeal.  The months of construction seemed to finally be winding down and Ted was hoping for quieter times.  If the folks wanted to dress up their building a little bit, that was fine by him.  Just so long as there were no more construction cranes or forklifts trying to run him over.

The bus came to a stop by the street and Ted made sure that he was the first one off.  His long legs made it easy for him to walk faster than others.  While he had plenty of time to get to work, the idea of weaving through a crowd of people never sat well with him.  Better to be a little obnoxious and stand up on the bus early than to live through the barrier of commuters.  That was how Ted came to be the first to happen upon a different sort of needle

One of the things that made Ted notice the needle was its similarity to its brethren.  This needle was certainly much smaller, but it too had an orange hue near its pointy tip.  With concern, Ted noted that this color was more of a reddish-orange.  Suddenly the “ugly” orange atop a skyscraper did not seem so off putting.

Ted did what any other commuter would have done.  He noted the presence of the syringe on the ground, “tisked” for a moment or two, and then walked past it.  Who was he to take care of such matters?  He did not want to get a prick on his hand. He was no medical professional.  Someone else could deal with it.  Someone else could take the risk; just as long as that someone was not Ted.

Then the sense of decency took over.  Public responsibility was not a trait Ted sat around and pondered, but every so often he could feel it pull at him.  Usually it was dealt with by picking up a piece of recycling or turning a valuable phone into lost and found.  It was in that same spirit that the piece of newspaper presented itself to Ted on the concrete in front of him.  Ted paused.  He thought back to the needle.  He knew it was a nice day and some crazy people might believe that they could wear sandals with nothing bad happening to them.  A family could be taking a casual stroll downtown and a four year-old could pick up the glinting object before her parents were any the wiser.  Ted had no desire to be accidentally injected with blood or some other biohazard.  However he also did not want someone else to have a surprise that could wreck their life.

Ted took the cue, reached for the piece of newspaper, and returned to the bus stop.  Sure enough, the needle lay there, waiting for him.  A fellow passenger who was adjusting his bike gave Ted a glance, but Ted was not about to explain himself.  He did not see any humor in the matter, so he opted out of telling an awkward joke or delivering a clever explanation.

Ted wrapped the syringe carefully in the piece of paper, almost like a hot dog in a ridiculously large bun.  The tip was covered, and the majority of the object was hidden from view.  Ted saw no reason to let folks know about the item he was carrying.  He would carry it at a safe distance and hope that no one caught on.  Ted honestly did not know how he would explain such an object.  Cries of, “It’s not mine!” came into his head and he wondered how convincingly he would be able to deliver the truth.

Never before had Ted given so much thought to how he was walking.  All of his items that he had brought from home were carried in his right arm.  His left arm was completely and entirely occupied with the tiny, single-use needle.  Ted was relieved that he had plenty of time to get to work because today was no the day to be running.  He could see himself tripping or stumbling over the many tree roots or cracks in the sidewalk and pricking his hand as he lost balance.  He hugged the curb as much as possible whenever someone else appeared on the sidewalk.  He hoped they took no offense at his putting a ten-foot barrier between himself and his fellow passersby.  Ted felt that the chance of perceived rudeness was nothing compared to an accidental injection with mystery fluids.

The problem simply was that of disposal.  Ted, like most downtown commuters, knew that every garbage can between his work and downtown (and beyond), were fair game for homeless people.  He had often seen people thrust their hands eagerly into all kinds of receptacles, hungry for food.  They dug, they rearranged, and they scoured the miscellaneous objects in search of treasures.  Ted was not about to let this dangerous item be one of them.  The nearest hospital was a mile or two out of his way, but Ted had another plan that he felt was safe enough.

Once a police officer passed by.  Ted mulled over the idea of asking them for advice.  However, he noted that they were parking enforcement.  They may have had some street experience, but they were not exactly paramedics.  Ted decided that he would stick to his reasonably sound plan and let the woman go about her assigned task undeterred.

The last few blocks came and went.  Ted became increasingly eager to rid himself of his burden.  They food he had held in his right hand was nothing compared to the weight he felt in his left.  He was not at all surprised to feel his left hand pointing the needle’s tip slightly away from him.  If he was to suddenly trip, Ted hoped that the extra ten degrees distance would save him.  Also, he knew he was leaning ever so slightly towards his right side and away from his “toy surprise”.  He had not even bought a combo meal.

Finally, Ted made it to the city building.  He had worked near the building for years and knew exactly where the large dumpster was.  With no locks and no staff near the doors, Ted pushed the green doors open and strolled on in.  Again fearing the conviction of any explanation, Ted breathed easier when he saw no custodians milling about.  Ted removed the syringe from the piece of paper.  He never let his hands come into contact with the needle.  Finally he watched it drop into the combination trash compacter/ dumpster.

Ted’s thinking was that the dumpster was the safest garbage can for miles.  The bin was emptied by a large truck; hopefully no bare human hands would come into contact with it.  Still, as he pushed the compact button in hopes of burying it, Ted could see most of the needle on the floor of the dumpster.  The compactor slid forward, slowly and noisily.  He had seen umbrella poles and chunks of wood splinter and crack before the might of this metallic behemoth.  Yet as the compactor slid back from its second round of severe pressures, Ted could still see the tip of the needle laying there.  It mocked him.  The exposed point told Ted that he could never really know if people were safe from it.  Ted walked away feeling only a bit of the responsibility taken from him.  Ted had not been pricked by the needle, but he could swear he feel it poking him as he tried to go about his day.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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