Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers - Angels Everywhere

Last Wednesday, I traveled into Manhattan to attend an all-day conference in Midtown. After leaving the conference, I was walking to meet my husband at his office, when I tripped over an electrical cord which was taped to the sidewalk. The cord was not flat the entire width of the pavement, and as I stepped around to avoid it, my left foot was caught in the space between the sidewalk and the light pole where the cord originated (!). I fell hard into the street, right next to a man who was hailing a cab.

He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed both my hands, and lifted me back up onto the sidewalk. He asked me if I was OK, and said that if I needed to, he would use the cab to get me to the nearest hospital.

I said that I thought that I could still walk, but that I had hurt my left knee, elbow, and ribs, as I landed on my left side when I fell. I thanked him several times for his kindness, and he said that he would not leave me until I was sure that I was OK. He was a sweetheart. I told him that he was going straight to Heaven for being so kind to me. He was very modest, and said that he was only doing what anyone else would do in a similar situation. I really was somewhat in shock at the time; I was still trying to process what had happened to me.

While this was going on, a very petite Asian woman was silently brushing the dirt from my pant leg with her hands, and she patted me on the shoulder. I couldn't believe that she was doing this - it was so sweet. I thanked her, and she just smiled - I don't think that she spoke English. Several other people stopped and offered their help as I tried to get myself back together after falling. They were being kind to a total stranger in one of the busiest cities in the world, a city with an underserved reputation for having cold, unfeeling citizens.

I can say this because I was met with similar acts of kindness and generosity when I was run over by a van 15 years ago in Manhattan. People were absolutely wonderful to me, and I actually made friends as a result of that experience.

So, even though I'm writing this while I'm still in pain, recovering from my brush with the "mean streets", the truth is that there were caring, kind people who stopped what they were doing to give aid and comfort to someone they didn't even know.

I feel very grateful for that, and I do believe that there are "angels" everywhere, in the form of people who will stop and help a total stranger who has been hurt.

The drawing accompanying this post was done by a little girl who was dying of the cancer which ultimately claimed her young life. Even though she knew that she was dying, she still saw herself as being watched over by angels.

Right now, I am thinking the very same thing. These people were my "angels", and I wasn't alone.