Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Giving and Receiving

I didn't see the old man get struck by the car.

It must have happened just before I turned the corner.  He was lying on his side, the lower half of his legs in a puddle. Drivers gave a wide berth as they moved by.

My "quick" Monday afternoon trip to Costco already hadn't gone as planned. I chose the slowest checkout line in Costco history and The Bean decided he would cry the entire time we were waiting.  A manager who had been called over to authorize something felt so bad about his crying that she loaded all of my stuff up on to the belt, ducked over to the other side to help pack it in again, and was also egging her co-workers on to hurry it up and get me through.

I don't know if she felt bad for me, The Bean, or the customers around us.

When I went into the store there was a drizzle of rain.  By the time I was leaving it had turned into a steady stream of heavy drops.  In a mad dash I got The Bean to the car and buckled into his seat without him getting too wet. I didn't stay as dry but figured I would feel all the cozier when I got home and into some flannel and my slippers.

Then on the drive back home I turned a corner and discovered a 70 or 80 year-old man lying on the side of the road bleeding.

A woman and her husband had already jumped out of their car.  The woman was propping the injured man so his upper body was off of the wet ground and her husband was on the phone to 9-1-1.  As I said earlier, most other vehicles were driving past.  I hesitated for a few seconds not knowing what to do. 

I had a baby in the car. 

It was the coldest day since spring and it was raining, but someone was injured and lying on the side of the road bleeding.

Both Allison's grandmother and my grandmother have taken some nasty spills lately. 

I pulled into a driveway and parked about ten feet from where the man was lying.  I got out and locked the car so I knew The Bean would be safe.  As I was running around to the trunk I yelled to the woman to ask if she needed a blanket.  She said yes.

I grabbed a blanket that we keep in the trunk and also the plastic rain cover for The Bean's stroller and went over to cover the injured man with them.  The thing I remember most is seeing his feet in his leather dress shoes lying in the big puddle of water. And his arm covered in blood. 

In between trips back to the car to check on The Bean I took turns helping to prop the man up.  Emergency vehicles were on their way.  A firetruck was first to respond and when the firewoman jumped down and started tending to the man the other family and I left.

I must admit I hesitated a minute about leaving the rain cover.  Those things can be expensive.  But he still needed it, so I got in the car and started home.  There wasn't much more I could do to help and The Bean was way overdue for his nap.

I was a little reluctant to tell Allison about leaving the blanket and cover, but I knew that given the circumstances she wouldn't be upset.

That same afternoon, a former class parent dropped by Allison's classroom to give her two bags of clothes that her son has outgrown.  I don't know if it's karma, but not having to go out and buy The Bean as much will more than make up for the expense of a new blanket and cover.

The Bean's Hand-Me-Down Clothes
I am thankful that we live somewhere with an effective emergency response system, with universal healthcare for all residents, and where people are willing to help each other in many different ways.


  1. You are a really good person and should be commended.

  2. What Strawberry said. I hope that if anyone in my family were injured, someone like you would be in the vicinity. Thank you so much for your kindness. I hope the man is okay.

  3. Thanks for your kind words. It was a somewhat surreal situation, but if that happened to someone I loved, I hope passersby would stop to help.

  4. Good for you for stopping to help even with a baby in the car. Like you said, I would hope someone like you would be around if that happened to someone I loved.

  5. Others have said this, but good for you for stopping and helping. I hope the man was okay in the end. He was lucky to have you and the other family there to watch out for him until professional help arrived.

  6. When I was six or seven, I was riding somewhere with my dad, and we passed a woman who'd been in a bike accident. She was hurt pretty badly, bleeding a lot from her head. She was alone, no other cars were around, and we were at least ten minutes from a hospital. This was (of course) before cell phones.

    My dad quickly pulled over, and I watched, scared, as he helped her into the car. She bled all over the place. I was frightened and woozy from all the blood. It was not the most pleasant ten-minute ride of my life. But I listened to him reassure her the whole way. She was crying. I'm sure she was way more scared than I was. He kept telling her we were almost there. That she was going to be okay. Asking her for her name. Where she worked. Trying to distract her. When we got there, he pulled straight into an ambulance bay. Looking back, that tells me that it must have been pretty bad.

    But here's the deal: it's my favorite thing I've ever seen my dad do. It's the moment I'm the most proud of him for. He could have thought "this will be too much for my daughter," and driven on, but he didn't. He could have taken the time to find something to lay down on the seat first. I mean, the blood never came all the way out of the upholstery in that car. I still noticed it years later. But he didn't. In that moment, her needs trumped ours. She was in trouble. We weren't.

    I've carried this lesson with me all of my life. I like to think it's shaped who I've become. I think that when my father dies (he's 81 now, and not well), I'll tell this story to celebrate him. I know The Bean is too young to remember this, but you should tell him later anyway. It's the kind of thing that makes kids want to grow up and be like their parents. R.

  7. @Shannon and @Alayna - Thanks for the comments. I've only lived in Toronto for a few years, but unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that if you live here long enough you're bound to get hit by a car! So horrible, but I know so many people that have had bad experiences (example, Allison getting into an accident on her bike with a cab). Growing up (in Pittsburgh) we always talked about how nice to peds the ppl up here are, but after living here I disagree!

    @R. - That's an amazing story. Good for your dad for helping that woman even if it meant a scary ride for you and some damage to the car. Not to get all preachy, but it's a great reminder that people are so much more important than things. Oftentimes I feel like such an emphasis is placed on things that we lose our connection to community and people. Have you ever told your dad what an impact that has had on you?

  8. The world can be a tough place. I, too, only hope that if that was one of my grandparents, someone like you would be around to help them out. I wholeheartedly believe in karma, but more than that, I believe in doing the right thing. As expensive as the rain cover may have been, you definitely did the right thing :) Good job my friend.

  9. What a horrible thing to happen upon! I can't believe people would drive by!

    Do you know if he was okay in the end?

  10. I think that moments like yours are the real teaching moments in our lives and The Bean is lucky to have such good teachers. R's story really drives home what a lasting impact the choice to put another person's needs ahead of our own (and sometimes the immediate needs of our children - like nap, snack, or attention) can have on the people our children become. Amazing.

  11. i came over for this moment and now having read this it makes me want to cry and makes my heart swell all at the same time.

    i, like you, would have been torn, but in the end, that's all we can do right, help each other out.

    thanks for giving me a sweet spot to start my Saturday.

  12. Thanks for all of your wonderful and thoughtful comments on this post.

    @Teaberry - Unfortunately I don't know what happened after I left. I assume he was taken to the hospital and treated. That's why I mentioned health care above, it was reassuring to know that being taken to the ER wouldn't bankrupt the guy.