Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Skinned Knees, Bruised Egos, and the Kindness (Or Not) of Strangers

White balloon emblazoned with a red First Aid cross floating against a bright blue sky

I've had jury duty all week, & though I haven't (yet?) been chosen for a jury, I still have to show up every day & sit in this huge room & waiiiiiit - until Friday or until I get called, whichever comes first. We're dismissed for lunch from 11:30am-1:15pm, which is a welcome breath of fresh air, literally, after hours spent in a very large, very crowded, very florescent room with but one window.

The other day, I grabbed a solo lunch at Noodlecat because I wanted to try their new menu (which actually isn't online yet). I budgeted enough time for a quick stop at the CLE Clothing Co. (but sadly struck out) & the Starbucks at Public Square (because jury duty requires caffeine) on my way back to the courthouse. Unfortunately, halfway between the two pit stops, I took a spill - a hard spill - as I crossed Euclid Ave., a busy street in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

The fall took my breath away, the kind of immediate, searing pain that had me feeling nauseated & dizzy as soon as my knees hit the pavement. To top it off, I was on all fours (in a dress) in the middle of a crosswalk in a busy street without a stoplight, which meant that at any moment, a car could come barrelling toward me. I was in a hurry to get out of the way - & apparently the folks around me were, too. Would you believe that, of the four people in the crosswalk at the time I fell, not a single one asked me if I was OK?! I heard two women gasp... & then they kept walking.

I actually kind of wasn't OK, either. I'd twisted my left ankle & skinned the hell out of my right knee, which was bloodied & raw - & still, I had to hoist myself up & drag myself out of the street. I was so embarrassed - lots of people saw, & lots of them kept staring at me, which made it seem even worse that no one asked if I was all right. Head down, I  hobbled over to a Starbucks & tried to clean out my wound, which was full of gravel & grit, & then, slowwwwly, I made my way back to the courthouse.

When I got to the courthouse, I asked a cop at the security desk if he had a first aid kit, & he gave me two antiseptic wipes & a packet of Neosporin while apologizing profusely that he didn't have any Band-aids. When I got to the jury holding room, the woman next to me saw me cleaning out my wound & offered me Advil, urging me to ask the bailiff for a Band-aid. When I approached the bailiff, he gave me not one, not two, but four Band-aids. And when an elderly juror saw me limping back to my seat, she asked, "Honey, did you fall? Do you need anything? I have Band-aids & Advil!"

At first, I was both upset that I'd hurt myself and really peeved that no one said a damn word when they all saw me fall. This is the Midwest, land of the perpetually friendly, yet everyone was too busy to say a word. When I changed my perspective a little bit, though, I realized I was just so grateful to be surrounded by so many kind individuals afterward. Heck, even as I limped back to the courthouse, I sneezed on the street & a passerby told me "Bless you"; surely that woman would've reached out if she'd seen me fall! I just happened to wipe out in the company of duds.

The morals of the story, then, are as follows:
  1. Don't be a dud. If you witness someone injuring themselves, offer a kind word. Even if you can't provide actual assistance, you can do more than gasp & walk away.
  2. Lots of people are duds, but lots of people aren't. Focus on the latter, & wish the former well when they're the ones who get injured in public.
  3. Save yourself the pain & humiliation by throwing away your old shoes, no matter how much you love them, as soon as the over-worn soles too unstable for safe walking.
And maybe carry around some damn Band-aids.

When's the last time you ate pavement in public? Did anyone stop to help?!

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