Lunch scene: an unplanned moment of helping

Scene: the three of us are finishing up our lunch at a local restaurant when an older woman in a wheelchair of sorts is brought in. Her knees are extremely bent, her feet resting high in the footrests.

My friend, who is a physical therapist, notices these details. She says, “that’s not healthy,” and wonders if the woman knows her footrests can be adjusted so that her legs can rest in a more relaxed position.
“I’m going to talk to her,” she says, and approaches the woman without a moment’s hesitation.

My other friend and I, who both tend to be more cautious and reserved, look at each other with wide eyes. What if, I think, this interaction doesn’t go well? What if the woman thinks she’s being rude for making a suggestion?

I can’t hear the exact words exchanged but the interaction goes somewhat like this: my friend says, “I don’t mean to intrude, but I’m a physical therapist…” She describes what she noticed and how to adjust the chair. The woman indicates that someone else adjusts the chair – and another, younger woman with a long ponytail walks in with an oxygen tank to stand beside them. My friend talks to her and shows her how to adjust the chair. They exchange a few more words, and the women thank my friend. The old woman says to her, “I wish I could take you with me.”

I find it hard to imagine myself approaching the old woman like that, even if I had the information that might help her. I might send a silent request out there that she gets what she needs. I wouldn’t want to be intrusive or interrupt. I wouldn’t want anyone to see me as rude.

I admire my friend for taking a risk that ended in helping someone else. And she did it in a very skillful way – she didn’t demand that they take her advice. She used a soft tone, presented her knowledge, and listened.

Perhaps I’ll take a risk one of these days, and help someone in an unplanned moment. I’m generally very intentional with my energy – it’s often like go here to eat, here to help, there to read. It’s the unexpected moments and exchanges that can catch me off guard, where I might think of how to respond in the moment or not until hours later. These moments often take more energy. I realize that stopping too long to wonder how I might come across, if the person will react harshly, can allow these kinds of moments to pass me by.

Back at the lunch table, my friend sits down and remarks that she’s glad she could help. I, sitting across from her, am glad she could, too.

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One response to this post.

  1. What s lovely post and a lovely gesture by your friend. It’s nice to go through life with eyes wide open to opportunities to help others. We can never have too much kindness in this world.

    Reply

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