To say that life on crutches has humbled me would be an understatement. I’ve had to ask for (and accept offers of) help more in the last 2 weeks than I have in years. Neighbors in my building – most of them I’ve never even spoken to – have offered to carry my things upstairs, take out my trash/recycling, hold doors, get my mail, etc. Strangers on the sidewalk run up ahead of me to get the door (this creeps me out a little, but I guess it’s no more risky than having someone follow you into your building). One of my weirdo stoner neighbors even helped me put my dirty laundry sack in my car last week. I’ve heard some version of, “I’ve been in that boot before and know how miserable you are right now!” at least a half-dozen times already.
But sadly, this has also been an eye-opening experience. Look, New Englanders are known for “not giving a f&*#.” I’m one of them. It’s why I couldn’t tolerate the slow and over-friendly way of life down South. I don’t like people asking my business or offering unsolicited advice. But having my own neighbor – who has always been a total douche – slam the incredibly heavy front door in my face when I was 2 steps behind him on my crutches was a major low point for humanity. Dropping my keys on the sidewalk and having to try to balance on one leg to pick them up while a couple walked past me was, too. People sitting right next to the door in nail salons and coffee shops while I struggle use one crutch to the hold the door while I try to shimmy out hopping on my good leg? Some pretty horrible human beings. The woman at my work event last night who felt the need to squeeze between me (trying to be as out of the way as possible) and the wall, almost taking my crutch with her as she bumped into me, barely even apologized and earned herself a place on my sh*tlist. And she’s a coworker! I also spent a significant chunk of change at a local craft beer store out in western Mass, and the guy working obviously saw me struggling but never offered to hold my selections or help while I walked around deciding which $3-5 cans or bottles to add to my 6-pack.
I don’t “expect” help. I choose to do things and go places knowing there may not be another soul in sight to help. But when someone is within arm’s length of me or a heavy door and just pretends they don’t see me, it makes me want to spin around and hit them with my crutch.
But I don’t. Instead, I remember that I believe in karma (not that I wish anything bad on them, but I do hope they experience a moment of helplessness when someone won’t lend a hand, like they did to me) but more importantly, I file away the experience and how badly it made me feel so that the next time I see someone in need, I help without hesitation. I’d like to think I do this anyway, but I tend to keep my head down when I’m out in public so I’m sure I miss opportunities to be a good Samaritan.