I am unsure if shock is the correct word for my recent emotional state as I bore witness to an event playing out before me at a big box retailer earlier this week. Call it timing, fate, or coincidence, but it happened. True to the person I am, and to my weekly writing, I put the current blog on hold for the week and turned my scribing wheel in a new direction. I needed to.
It is a fact, each of us has a personal connection to some deep visceral issue that resonates profoundly within our soul. It shouldn’t take you but a split second to know what it is if asked. When you are exposed to it, hyper focus and reaction very quickly kick into gear. As human beings, we cannot avoid it.
Everybody has very personal emotional passions and causes that connect uniquely to them. Today of one of mine surfaced unexpectedly. Unfortunately, it shook, frustrated, and confused me on how it all played out. It happened so quickly and without any advance preparation.
After parking my vehicle, and checking my phone for the correct time, I walked in my typical fast cadence to get from the summer heat and into the store. Just outside of the entrance, my eyes became fixed on two people.
She was slightly larger in stature, but he was taller and lankier. After the initial shock of seeing another human being laying helplessly on his stomach, I ran towards them, watching as this young person in his early twenties remained on the ground after having fallen-down smashing his face on the burning hot walkway pad beneath his broken body. The bright red bloody concrete print on his forehead told the entire story without any spoken words needed. Incredibly, no one around these two people was bothering to assist.
The driver of a car not 15 feet away, simply sat there in comfortable air conditioning and stared as if he were watching a summer blockbuster in a movie theater. He never flinched to aid in any way. The showreel simply couldn’t be missed, as he appeared to be glued to his luxury leather seat fully focused on this newly discovered visually pleasing material. Perhaps, it was just too hot for him out there.
A second person walked purposefully around this woman as she clearly was struggling to lift the male. I initially assumed he was going to offer assistance. Unfortunately, he too, could not be bothered from his immediate pursuit to purchase a plastic jug of mayonnaise, a case of hotdogs, and a three-gallon tub of macaroni salad. Clearly, he was on a different mission. It’s summertime, people need these things badly.
The other assumption at his lack of assistance may have been for his already having sized up the circumstance in his mind. Maybe he had already concluded this young man to have been some random drug addict who had fallen while in the midst of some bad overdose episode. “Serves him right…”
His justification may have gone something like this. “you do drugs and you get what you get”. While watching in horror as this lady labored alone mightily, I ran frantically like a track star to aid them. She continued fervently trying to keep his skin from searing on the hot earth beneath him. While her own did just that.
After finally getting to where they both were, I first notified the store to get us some help out there. Clearly there wasn’t a sympathetic individual to be found shopping on that particular day. The woman and I lifted and steadied this shaken soul who clearly had been traumatized as he stood there grasping the handle of the shopping cart, completely embarrassed. He knew he was going to be the talk of the dinner table that evening for countless amounts of people.
After speaking with them both, I learned the assisting woman was his mom. She downplayed the entire incident and attempted to dismiss it as her son grabbing an unsecured stanchion, thus causing him to fall down. Being the parent to a disabled child, I knew there was much more to the story. She had the same look in her eye that we all have who care for a loved one with a physical disability. There was a secret. I already knew what it was. He could barely walk on his own, his muscles clearly had other confused plans.
Together we shared a few moments as I quizzed him more about banging his head, fearing a concussion. His reply displayed the outline of blood around one of his front teeth just for good measure. I concluded shortly thereafter, they wanted to move away from their standing position and begin their shopping excursion as soon as possible. This incident was not going to define their day.
This kind of thing happens a lot when you care for a disabled person. Today was certainly not the first time she had picked her son up off the ground, I am convinced of it. He could barely walk on his own. He trembled with each and every step, but never stopped trying to go forward alongside his mom.
Triumphantly, these two complete strangers proceeded about their shopping mission as if nothing had happened at all. Just another day. Mine paled in comparison.
Driving home, I wondered how many other times this has happened to this poor young man with his mom over the course of a day, a week, a year, a lifetime.
I am uncertain when we became such a hands-off culture. Void of having enough human decency to care for a fellow human being laying helplessly on the ground as his skin pink-bubbled under him. Is life less valuable because arms and legs don’t work the same, or for addicts? The lack of action I witnessed, would certainly validate the case for some to believe this to be fact.
I saw only one superhero that day. The mother caring for her disabled son in a massive parking lot full of people.
Put down the movie popcorn and become the next one if called upon. No costume required, only empathy and compassion.