"Mom! Look! That woman is crawling over the barrier on the overpass!"
It was a weekend in July and I was with my youngest daughter and her two children at the fast food drive-up window where we had a clear view of the overpass on I-205.
My daughter's agitated voice jerked my attention away from the baby in the back seat. I scanned through the windshield in the direction her hand was waving.
"Awwwoooh!" was my response as my eye caught the movement of the leg of a woman as she straddled the railing.
I began rifling through my purse seeking my cell phone while still keeping my eye on the scene. Where was that cell phone?
Then a man drew our attention. He was walking slowly toward the woman with one hand stretched in her direction.
I recognized him immediately. He was one of several panhandlers we've seen guarding the end of the off ramp at that location.
Although we couldn't hear their voices, we could tell by their physical actions that the woman was yelling at the man and he was responding.
I found my cell phone just as the woman pulled her body back over the rail and moved into the street. She was waving her arms angrily and I thought that I could hear her shriek something over the roar of the freeway traffic below them.
The man approached her and placed his hand on her elbow and began to gently lead her down to the stop light where the freeway exit directs the cars on to Stark Street.
The drive up window slid open and the cashier required my daughters attention. The clerk seemed unaware of the commotion.
"I guess I won't call 911," I stated, "but maybe I should call the non-emergency number?"
My daughter thought that is what I should do, too. She paid for our food and pulled over into the parking lot so that we could continue to observe the woman.
The police department non-emergency number was a recording with multiple choices. I listened to it twice while I watched the woman take up a position by the cross walk. None of the options on the recording seemed appropriate. Meanwhile the man who had given up his prime spot for hand-outs, picked up his belongings and wandered out of sight.
"Well," my daughter said in relief and also with a bit of disgust, " it sure looks like she was only threatening to jump off the bridge because she wanted that corner."
Just then a city patrol car drove across the overpass and slowed to a stop by the woman. There was only a brief conversation through the window before the blue and white pulled away.
My cell phone was tossed, unused, into my purse. Someone else had apparently made the call.
When we returned later that evening and crossed the overpass bridge, there was a different person occupying the end of the exit ramp.
I wondered where the "suicide" woman went when her shift was over.
7 hours ago