I was on a business trip this past week in Massachusetts and one afternoon I took a walk around town to find a place to eat lunch. I heard a sound, like a rock hitting the ground. It was loud and sharp and I turned and saw an old lady lying on the sidewalk across the street. I ran over, other people ran over, she was not moving and blood pooled under her head. When someone gently lifted her head to get it off the ground, she thankfully opened her eyes. I went into the Chinese Restaurant next door to get some paper towels and actually had an argument because they didn’t want to part with more than two of them. I ended up getting a bunch, raced outside and the person who was holding her head took the towels and applied pressure. Someone else called 911, other people crowded around. Another person got an emergency kit, but none of us really knew what to do with it and we just looked inside at the assorted bandaids and antiseptic and just sort of shrugged helplessly. I held her hand for a very brief second. I wish I held it longer, but I think I let it go to get the paper towels. The whole experience made me feel quite powerless to do anything.
Thankfully the EMT’s arrived in just a few minutes, at which point I quietly moved away to the sound of more sirens racing to the scene. There really wasn’t much more I could do but voyeur at that point, so I left.
I think it’s this helpless feeling that makes me want to help other people in any way I can. It’s why I tweet other authors or people looking to promote good things, it’s why I reach out on social media to communicate ideas and advice. I like to think of myself as a “fixer.” People call me to talk about their problems and I immediately try to fix them (when all they really may need is just to vent – I have to learn when that is the case, and when they really need advice).
I truly believe this world is full of helpers, but the news confuses us in thinking otherwise. That’s not the case. 99 out of 100 people are amazing. But that one person can leave such a bitter taste in your mouth. Multiply it and that leaves 10 out of 1000 that can cause a heap of trouble. Make that 100 evildoer’s out of 10,000 and you have a real problem. (I hope I did my math right, if not, you get the point)
Mr. Fred Rogers had this great bit of advice that came from his mother and I find it rather comforting. It’s all about helpers and the quote is in the cartoon above. After the Boston Marathon bombing someone had taken the quote and used it for that, but it applies to everything.
I posted this experience to my FB page and was actually surprised how many people were “proud of me” for stepping up. Is it really so prevalent that most people won’t do a thing? Or do we think that they don’t but they really do? Every time I’ve seen an accident, I always see the helpers. They really are there. And I do think the majority of voyeurs who just “stand around” may really not be voyeuring – maybe they are mostly “helpers in waiting” and feeling useless and not having any idea what to do until someone gives them an order.
This old lady, it was just so sad. She didn’t sign up for this that morning. She was dressed nicely for a lunch out, she had her make-up on, her hair had been done, she had a fancy bag, and because of a fall, she ended up lying on a dirty sidewalk with her head cut open. 😦
I guess this post is just to say, “Be present every moment. Help when you can, even if it’s to just get a paper towel or offer a comforting word.” The comfort I take is this: When this woman fell, it seemed for a split second that time stood still. Everyone around her froze. Seeing someone immobile on a city sidewalk is startling, but then a moment later everyone was in action. This lady didn’t lie there by herself all alone. She hopefully will learn that she was surrounded by people who hoped she would be okay, even if they weren’t the ones that could get her okay.
My musings for today…