kindness of strangers

Good Luck Bad Luck and the Kindness of Strangers

I am in New York City with the mother of my two oldest grandchildren. Nancy just ran the New York City Marathon on Sunday and while she was running through the five Boroughs, I was walking in the charming West Village. The day was beautiful – clear skies, sunny and warm. Shortly before noon as I was close to a café for lunch, I tripped, on I know not what. The outcome was that I was sprawled, partially face down, on a New York City sidewalk with broken glasses, shattered screen on my I-phone, in shock, scraped and bruised in various places and not sure if my limbs were still working.

I looked up and two young men in their 20’s were bent over me, kindly checking to see what they could do. Someone else had called an ambulance, which I asked to be cancelled. I knew I was not in a life threatening situation and I needed to get my bearings. In the meantime others dashed over with offers of assistance. Even in my shocked state I was surprised at all the offers of help.

Once I caught my breath and moved my legs I breathed a sigh of relief. My two helpers assisted me to sit up and we assessed the situation. Another woman ran out of her shop to invite me inside for a cup of tea.

In the meantime, 50,000 runners were running; 1,000,000 people were cheering them on; twenty bands were playing in just one of the five Boroughs, and I was being cared for by strangers in a city of almost 9 million people.  It was surreal. When I decided my best bet was to go back to my hotel and ice my face for the afternoon one of my helpers ordered an Uber and would not allow me to reimburse them. “It’s the least we can do,” the smiling and generous pair said, practically in unison.  As I climbed into the Uber I overheard one of them giving instructions to the driver regarding my well-being.  It was a huge comfort at a vulnerable time and I will never get to see them again.

Later on when it became obvious that I would need to go to the hospital, a similar string of events unfolded. Nancy, walked in the door from her arduous run – tired, sore and hungry, quickly changed and came with me. My travel insurance contact, Kelly, was kind, extraordinarily helpful and reassuring. She went out of her way to research where I should go and how to navigate the system. Every single encounter at the hospital over the next day and a half followed suit. I was amazed at the entire experience. Being in a New York City emergency room on a Sunday night and witnessing the tragedy, competence and the kindness of all the medical professionals and policeman towards their fellow human beings has inspired me for the rest of my days.

It turned out that I do have two tiny facial fractures and that my broken and scrapped glasses had saved my eye, as told to me by three different specialists. How fortunate was that. I am scary to look at right now but I will heal and I can see again thanks to Cohen’s Optical.

Here’s the thing. Beyond the injuries, the difficulty of impaired sight was the biggest challenge as it affected everything I needed to do and mightily disturbed my equilibrium. I had called around to several optical stores and no one was going to be able to put together glasses for me in the short time I was here. I was imagining how I might make my way through airports, changing planes, customs etc. when Nancy once again came to my rescue.

She found Cohen’s, and to my complete surprise they were able to help me out, and last night at 6:00 I got glasses. So this morning, I can see again to travel home. George at Cohen’s went way beyond expectations to make this happen, and I thank him.

Why do I tell you this story? Not for sympathy. It could have been so much worse. But to remind all of us that for all the dark news that we are flooded with, in times of trouble, helping hands are there. This has been 100% my experience of living. It doesn’t mean everyone is helpful. It means that when things go wrong, kind people always appear on the scene, wherever you are. Even in the middle of bustling and busy New York City. Even when we are by ourselves, we are not alone.

This incident reminds me of all of this once again. So to all the kind strangers who reached out to me, and to others I owe a debt of gratitude. And it is my privilege and obligation to pass it on, whenever possible  My confidence, at a time of uncertainty in the world, remains intact and thoroughly renewed and I am grateful for that.

Note 1: Since I have turned this into a personal post I will add that last night I also got to see the Broadway play Come from Away. If you want to see the breadth and depth of human compassion and action, don’t miss a chance to see this wonderful true story, when it goes on tour next year. Good timing for me.

Note 2: When I was going through cancer treatment I wrote a piece called Good Luck Bad Luck – Who Knows? You are welcome to read it here.  Now off to the airport. Thanks for stopping by and see you next week, Trudy

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