Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is kindness?

Yesterday something happened that made me think a bit. I was driving to the next city over when I noticed a person lying on the sidewalk. The other cars on the street weren't stopping but I did. Now, what did I think I could do? I called out to the man (it was a man) as I got out of the car and he mumbled an answer. I asked if he was okay and helped him since he was struggling to sit up. He didn't look hurt and he was talking to me so I helped him stand. He wasn't very steady on his feet so I took him over to a stone wall and helped him sit there while I gathered up the plastic bags that seemed to have fallen out of his jacket pocket. I asked him where he was going and he said to the train station. Well, the train station is on the other side of town and he sure didn't look like he was going to be able to make it on foot. I said I didn't know where there was a bus stop in this area so he'd do best to wave down a taxi. By that time I sort of figured that he might be homeless... he didn't seem drunk. I asked if he had any money and he said no and asked me to take him to the train station. Well, no. I couldn't do that (I couldn't see being late to work and driving around with a stranger.) I left him by the roadside with the equivalent to $10. He asked if I had more spare change but I said no and wished him well and waved goodbye.

I really didn't think he'd get far since he could hardly stand and it was beginning to rain, so I made a stop at a police box along the way and reported where the man was and how I'd come across him. The policeman seemed to think I shouldn't have given him money but after pulling out maps he said he'd drive out and see. That's the end of my story.

Tetsu thinks I should have immediately called an ambulance or the police and not tried to help the man stand. It looked like he was really in need but he could have just been panhandling for money because he asked for more after I'd given him some. Maybe I was just alleviating my own feelings of not wanting to get more involved.

Many years ago Leiya and I came across a man who was lying in the middle of the street and we helped him to the side of the road. He was bleeding though and I flagged down the next car and asked them to call an ambulance. We wrapped the man in a picnic quilt that I keep in back of the car and waited with him until the ambulance came. He wasn't making any sense so I thought he'd hurt his head. When he was transported to the ambulance I asked for my quilt back... For some reason I could be kind enough to help someone in need but not kind enough to lose my quilt! Later the hospital called to say the man had dementia and had wandered away from his home. He hadn't been hit by a car or hit his head etc. I sometimes look at my old quilt (still in the back of the car) and wonder why I couldn't let it go...


1993 and our New Year's card was of us in my mother's swimming pool! This had been taken 6 months earlier when we visited California that summer and it was always a big thrill for the kids to take two weeks of swimming lessons at the local community college and then swim all summer. I think Takumi got a waterproof watch for his birthday a couple weeks earlier which he was very proud of, thus the pose. Leiya, on the other side, was trying to be like big brother. And Shoko, the dog, (who of course didn't go to California) joined the picture by way of sticker applied later.

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