I have this post to write that I thought would be funny, but it's somewhat sad.
Long long ago, I wrote posts about the crazy guy who lives in my building, an elderly man who shuffles around talking about going to the beach with hot girls, when in fact he barely makes it out of our front gate. The other residents of the building and I keep an eye on him, and make sure he's doing alright. Although no one has ever been inside his actual apartment. The shutters are always drawn, the doors are always closed. It's a big mystery, that place, and we've all been dying to get in and see what it is like.
So--cut to a few weeks ago. The day was swelteringly hot, and the humidity was so thick, it made it hard to breathe. I was standing outside, when I saw the crazy neighbor guy emerge from his door--and he was drenched in sweat. Seriously, he had soaked through his clothes. But he was just in his place, so I asked him what he was doing. He said, alas, his air conditioner had broken. So he was just sitting inside, sweating his brains out, with the windows closed, because they were broken as well and they didn't crank open.
If you can imagine how hot a Miami apartment gets in the summer, with no open windows and no air conditioning, multiply that times a thousand, and that's how bad it was that day.
He told the landlord about his plight; but for some reason the landlord wouldn't spend the money on repairs, perhaps because this guy is disabled and he pays so little?...I don't know. Whatever, there's some reason why they wouldn't do it.
I looked around--we live next door to an abandoned building, that was being remodeled until the housing bubble popped, and construction has ceased--and I noticed all the air conditioning units sticking out of the walls.
So I told him, stay outside today, go to the movies. I will come help you tomorrow.
That night, I snuck into the neighboring building, prayed there weren't any crackheads taking a mid-fix nap, and I found an air conditioning unit that looked (a) old enough that the new owners would want to replace it anyway, but (b) still in reasonably good shape so if I lugged it all the way home I could bet it would work. Pop, yank, and heave, and the a/c unit was against my chest, and I stumbled back outside. Don't tell anyone.
So the next morning, which was equally as hot, I saw Crazy Guy wandering around outside again; I told him I had a present for him, and to go home--I would meet him there. So he shuffled back along the path, and I ran upstairs to grab the stolen a/c. Honestly, I was happy to help this guy in need; but my motives were mainly for the bragging rights, as I was about to be the first person who saw the inside of his place. I was going in! Welcome to the motherlode.
But when I opened his door...it was awful.
The air conditioner wasn't just broken; it had leaked water all over his carpeted floor, which had mildewed so badly, the stench gave me a headache. I asked him how long it had leaked; he said he wasn't sure, but it was probably about a month.
The room just had a little twin-sized bed, a purple chair, and a display case of Chicago Cubs memorabilia. His kitchen, which had the same counters and curtains from the 1960's, presumably, was sticky with I have no idea what; the sink was covered in black sludge, which he said was from the pipes backing up with sewage and overflowing into the basin. There was no food to be found; I have no idea what he eats, although I would worry about anything edible being kept in there.
So long story short, I pulled his old a/c unit out, slime sloshed onto my chest and hands; but then I popped the new unit in, and turned it on high. I told him not to talk to me for a while, and after I ran back up and grabbed cleaning stuff in my apartment, I scrubbed his kitchen as well as I could, while a fan blew at least a little of the water out of his month-old rug puddle.
When I was finished, or as finished as I could be at that time, I grabbed all my cleaning stuff and walked out of the kitchen. Aas I started to say my goodbyes, I looked back at him--and he was standing in front of the cold air, his eyes closed, leaning on his cane. I stood there for about a minute, watching him breathe, and then...I just opened the door, snuck out, and went back home.
It's just terrible to think about this poor guy, sitting in his little room for a month, sweating and miserable with nowhere else to go and no way to open his windows.
So I guess I'm writing this to encourage you, whoever you are, to pay attention to the people around you. No one will be offended if you ask if you can help with something. And you won't get roped into helping over and over, it won't be inconvenient. Sometimes people need a little help, not a lot, just a little. And it will make a big difference.