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10:16 am - Thurs 11.07.2013
Trying To Be Helpful

Trying To Be Helpful

I have always thought of myself as a very self-centered person.

Mostly because I am a very self-centered person.

But every so often, I have an impulse to be kind, or generous, or look out for another person in some way.

Like on Tuesday.

I'd worked my first WW meeting at the Beverly store, and had maybe a 45-minute break between that meeting and my next one.

I'd brought my dvr and remote to work, to turn it in at the Time Warner Cable center basically across the street (In the Beverly Connection complex).

Having crossed the street, carrying my dvr, I was cutting between two buildings when I saw an older African-American man, looking very unsteady, hanging onto a metal staircase bannister.

As I approached, I saw him first stagger, then topple over, onto the concrete.

I put my dvr down and ran over to him. I was worried that he'd hit his head on the sidewalk, but he was okay - Conscious, and a little slow-of-speech, but coherent (He seemed drunk, but I didn't smell any alcohol).

I don't know exactly what I said, but I basically asked if he was all right, if he needed some help, if I should call someone, etc.

He declined, and actually got himself up under his own power before starting to make his way back down the street (He was going in the opposite direction from me), but then he went down again.

I went back to him, as someone who'd seen what was transpiring came up to us with my dvr(which I thought was very nice); this time I called 911, as I helped him up - I didn't really know what to do (I didn't think I could restrain him or anything), and tried to stay close to him, as I kept the 911 operator apprised of our surroundings ("We're by the Old we're in front of the CVS on LaCienega and Beverly, across from the Mobil station...").

I really didn't want him to try and cross the street, which didn't end up being a problem, because before we got there, he went down again.

This time, I politely suggested we just "hang out" there on the sidewalk for a bit. I introduced myself and asked him his name - It was Michael - and when he quietly said, "I just want to sit over at the bus stop...", I helped him up, and walked over with him (Supporting him, like I should have done after he went down the first time), then waited there with him till the paramedics came (They sent two ambulances, for some reason).

Turned out, Michael had just left a dialysis session, which apparently can leave you pretty un-steady, and was trying to make his way home.

At that point there didn't seem like anything else for me to do, and the clock was ticking for me to get my dvr-returning done and get back to work, so I said goodbye to Michael, and went to TWC.

I got my business conducted relatively quickly, then popped into CVS to buy a few things on the way back to work.

As I left CVS, I saw the ambulances were still there at the bus stop with Michael - they had a gurney out, but they hadn't put him on it.

I quietly approached the paramedic nearest me and asked, "Is he okay?".

He said, "I can't legally share any medical info with you. We're trying to persuade him to come with us, but he doesn't want to, and we can't force him".

He then said that Michael lived nearby, kind of suggesting that I could maybe drive him home.

And I would have (I wasn't worried about having him in my car or anything like that), but I demurred, because of work.

So I walked back to work, looking back at the bus stop periodically, anxiously wishing Michael would let the paramedics take him to the hospital.

At one point, once I was back at WW (Before the meeting had started), I went out, and one of the two ambulances had left.

Then, a short time later, the second ambulance pulled away, and when it did, there was no one at the bus stop, so I hoped that he'd decided to let himself get checked out (Or barring that, at least got home without further incident).

Afterward, I regretted my decision to go on to work - In the moment, it seemed like the only thing I could do, but in retrospect, I could have called Amy B. (The Leader) to tell her the situation and that I'd be running late. I probably would have been able to get him home and get back to work before the meeting actually started (For the unintiated, there's a half-hour "weigh-in" period before each WW meeting).

But that's "Jim The Perfectionist" talking, who never feels good about what he tries to do because he can't ever do things quite right.

But getting my emotional dysfunction out of the picture for a second, I hope Michael's okay today.

And I hope that, instead of feeling annoyed or embarrassed by what happened Tuesday morning, that he feels good that, when he was having a little trouble, a stranger's impulse was to try and help, instead of just walking past.


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