Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Musings: The Kindness of Strangers

While I was away supposedly enjoying the end of my vacation, I had a little episode. I blacked out in a deli and, while I thought I was leaning up against a wall, I fell out the front door and onto the pavement. Face first. Yikes. Sounds really scary, and it was, but, let's face was kind of comical. Apparently, I was practically in the trash can before I fell out the main entrance. When I came to, a man kindly asked me if he could step over me to get to his children. Sure, bud. No problem.

But, I am not writing this to tell you about the fall itself, which turned out to be nothing except a case of over exertion and lack of fluids, but rather because it made me think about something I wrote about once before. When the Boston bombing happened, I wrote about how there are so many good people in the world, something we might lose sight of in the face of what many people consider to be pure evil. When I was lying on the pavement outside of Box Lunch, I was reminded just how many kind and selfless people there truly are. There was a woman who quickly took her water and filled a cup and helped me drink it. There was the woman who made an ice pack and put it on the back of my neck. There was the nurse who comforted me, evaluated the situation, and told me what to do when I left. There was the older man who told me that I could get checked for free at the local fire station. There were the EMTs at the fire station who told me if I didn't feel well later, they'd come to my house to make sure I was okay. And none of these people knew me. And none of these people had to do anything. And none of these people gained anything by taking time out of their lives to sit with me and make sure I was okay. But they did it anyway because helping someone was an instinctual response. Something happened. People responded.

I mentioned this to my sister the day after the incident while we were talking about what happened (she was there, but was ordering me a sandwich, and when she turned around, I was out the door) and she said, "Well, you're the easiest kind of person to help." In a way, she was right. Unlike so many people who are unfairly misjudged every day of their lives, I am a blonde, white woman who was ordering a turkey sandwich in a safe place in the middle of the afternoon. I don't look like I pose a threat. I am put together and appear respectable. All that is true. And all those things might (and likely do) contribute to someone being willing to get on the pavement and rub my back. I could focus on the privilege I experienced, and I am not saying that that privilege is not real. But, for this moment, I am focusing on the kindness I experienced. I am so grateful that there are people who are selfless and good, and I am grateful that I have been able to be the recipient of the kindness of strangers. Despite a few bumps and bruises, I primarily took from that experience a renewed sense of the goodness of people, and for that I am the most grateful of all.

(Find this adorable journal via Smythson)

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