Last night, I was preparing dinner while waiting for Serena to return home when I received an unexpected call from her: she was in her parked car, petrified as the car’s headlights had illuminated a person lying on the floor of our building’s entrance, right in front of the elevator1. I told her to stay in the car and rushed down the stairs. When I got to the ground floor, no one was there; I checked the basement, and it was empty, too. On my way back, I found Serena entering from the front door. She told me the person had quickly risen and walked away when the lights turned on in the staircase.

I took a few steps outside and saw an aged, bald man on the porch, more or less twenty meters away. He was standing still, looking back at me. He had nothing going on, no jacket, scarf, or cap, just a sweater, cargo pants with summer shorts on top, canvas shoes, and half gloves, and that was it. It must have been 0 or 1 degree Celsius. It was so cold. Since he wasn’t fleeing, I approached him and asked if everything was okay and if he needed any help2. He nodded and said, “Yes.” That broke my heart.

He then told me, “My teeth hurt”. From what I could see, he was utterly toothless. I asked if he had entered the building looking for warmth, and he nodded again. I told him we could get him something warm, and then, if he allowed us, we would call for help. “Yes, he again answered. I told him to wait a few minutes, and then we went to our apartment to get an old jacket, an oversized, warm scarf and a woolen cap. “He must have run away by now,” I thought as I went down with everything tucked under my arm, but when the elevator door opened, I found he had made his way into the building again and was waiting for me. I helped him wear the jacket and wrap his scarf around his neck. As I called for an ambulance, he laid down again on the floor; all gathered up to keep what little warmth the new clothes could give within.

We waited about 20 minutes. The ambulance driver made him get up abruptly, pulling him by the arm and scolding him because “you don’t go into buildings; it’s forbidden.” The nurse wanted to return our clothes because “we have blankets”; it took a while to explain that we didn’t want them back and that he would need them the following day anyway when he inevitably ended up back on the street.

His name is Fabio, and he is 60 years old.

  1. The return spring of the building’s front door has been broken for some time. As a result, the door only closes if accompanied, and no one does. ↩︎

  2. Silly questions. I wanted to be reassuring, and I couldn’t develop anything better. ↩︎