If you had been walking down the 1700 block of Chestnut Street on Tuesday morning at around 11:30 am, you would have found me sitting on the sidewalk, just next to the Men’s Warehouse, talking with a woman who was sitting by my side.
I had been walking down to the Staples at the corner of 15th and Chestnut, to buy a new ink cartridge for my printer when I watched the woman in front of me step on an uneven bit of sidewalk, twist her ankle and fall, landing prone on the sidewalk. Several people stopped to make sure she was alright, but soon the crowd scattered and I was the only one left. I didn’t want to leave until I knew that she’d be able to stand and walk.
After she found her way off her stomach and into a sitting position, she broke into fits of laughter. Tears of tension, embarrassment and probably a little pain (she cut up her knees and a palm pretty well) streamed down her face as she processed the fact that she had just fallen in such a dramatic fashion. I took a seat beside her and waited, chatting a bit to pass the time until she was ready to get up.
She told me that she was from a small town in Georgia and that she was a retired school teacher, in town for the NEA meeting. She’d really been enjoying Philadelphia, particularly the history and the shopping. She told me about her grandchildren, and how she makes a point to volunteer at the NEA registration every year so that she gets a chance to see everyone.
After a few more minutes of conversation, she was ready to try to stand. She got up pretty easily and seemed okay. We walked down another block and a half together, until we got to the address she was looking for. She pulled me in and gave me a huge hug, and said, “Honey, thanks so much for helping me.” I told her it was my pleasure and wished her well.
As I walked away, another woman who had witnessed the hug stopped me with a touch on the arm and said, “It’s good to help people, isn’t it?” I smiled and nodded and said, “It really is.”
I’ve been dealing with a lot of sadness lately, and so getting an opportunity to be helpful and interact with someone in a loving and caring manner was just the gift I needed.