A Little HelpAugust 9, 2011
Cari's lovely post really spurred me back into Couch to 5K and I'd been enjoying running again. I had a great combo on my iPhone -- the c25k free app, and RunKeeper, and the amazing This American Life app (ALL their episodes! Dude!). I could run forever with these things!
Until I fell at Lake Merritt the other day while running. I wasn't running hard, but I was going along at a good clip, and BOY did it hurt to twist my ankle like that. But I roll my ankles a lot (thanks, Dansko) and I know I can just keep walking, walk it off. In a minute or two, I knew it would feel better.
But it didn't. The pain got worse. And worse. And even worse. I had to call a friend (the lovely Julie of the PensFatales) to pick me up and take me to the emergency room, and do you have ANY idea how much I hated doing that? Seriously, I tried to walk to my car. I couldn't breathe, it hurt so badly. I got out my phone and started to dial her. Then I tried to walk some more, and knew I had to either call her or an ambulance. I hated asking for that help, but she was SO good to me and so loving, and two nice boys helped me across the sidewalk into her car, and she whisked me to Kaiser Oakland, where they were very nice to me. X-rays showed it wasn't a break, just a bad sprain, and I was bandaged up and sent on my way (after which I went to Whole Foods and wreaked havoc in one of their sit-in shopping carts).
Something about that day has been weighing on me, though. While I was sitting on the curb at the lake, one shoe off, crying because I couldn't quite make myself stop, only two people stopped to ask if I was okay. Now, I didn't need help. I was waiting for my ride, and there was nothing anyone could have done to help me, unless they had a bag of frozen peas on their person. I told the two who stopped that they were sweet to check, and I thanked them fervently.
But two hundred, perhaps, passed me, many of them looking right at me. Some looked worried, and they hesitated in their steps, as if trying to consider what to do next. Then they moved on.
And I've been that person. I'm not going to be again. I've seen women crying on the street, and instead of touching their arm and saying, "Are you okay?" I've just walked on, assuming it's none of my business. Perhaps their boyfriend just dumped them, or their mom just died. I'm sure I couldn't help in these situations.
But what if I could?
After my first-ever book signing, we went to the Philosopher's Club. I may have had a few drinks, you never know. Late that night, when there were just a few of us left in the bar, I went to the bathroom. A woman stood there, sobbing, in front of the sinks. Maybe because I was tipsy, I asked her, "Can I help you? What's wrong?" Turns out that while we'd been toasting my book success, she and her friends had been mourning the loss of their good friend's child, who had just died. And I hugged her, and started crying with her (that part MAY have had something to do with the tequila, but you never know).
Even inebriated, it was most certainly A Moment, shared with a stranger. She kissed me on the cheek and thanked me and hugged me more, and when she left the bathroom, she looked a little tiny bit better.
And I think if, after my mother died, someone had asked me what was wrong as I cried my way around the lake, I might have told them. And if that stranger had hugged me, I would have felt better. Period. (YOU all hugged me online. I remember that. That helped, all the time.)
Now I'm going to at least ask. It's the very least I can do as a human being, and I'm ashamed of the times that I haven't.
(Aside: Of course, I'm not advocating going up to a crazy person on Market who's ranting and crying and kicking newspaper boxes. That could be dangerous, and requires a totally different skill set, natch.)
Boy, I hope this heals quickly. It's a pain. But Adah is helping.
ETA: Lorajean of KnittedWit fame just left a comment that had me tearing up. Yes. THIS is what I'm talking about:
Me and my boss at the time were going out to eat and came across a lady who had just hoped off her bike to answer a call. She had just found out that her brother died. So terrible. We stayed with her until her husband came and picked her up. Never hurts to ask.