When I wrote my first Kindness post, I definitely did not anticipate that I’d get to write another one. Cynical? Maybe. Little faith in other humans? A bit dramatic. Realistic? Totally. Call me Pleasantly Surprised!
Yesterday, I was walking home from the gym. Was a beautiful, sunny day. Not too hot or humid. Perfect conditions for a nice long walk. I’ve mentioned before that whenever I go to the gym, I bring along my drawstring bag to carry my water bottle, lock, sunglasses case, keys sometimes, blah blah. You get it. It’s much easier on me to put my stuff in a bag than try and carry it in my hands while using my crutches. Just in case that wasn’t immediately obvious. Anyway, I was walking along, minding my own business and listening to music, when the strap on my drawstring bag fell off my left shoulder. I stopped, moved to the side to let others pass, and fixed it. No big deal. Kept walking. I made it about 10 or 15 feet before the strap fell again. I stopped and fixed it once more. Made it another 10 feet, same thing happened. By then, I was fed up. Seriously?! The bag was supposed to make my walk home easier, not complicate things. Here’s the danger beyond the “simple” nuisance of a bag strap that won’t cooperate: the drawstring can get caught/tangled in the cuff of my crutch, impede the movement of my arms, and introduce the possibility of falling. Seems like it always comes back to falling, doesn’t it? Just a reality for me, I guess. Can you really blame me, though? Falls can be very dangerous and cause a lot of damage, especially if you don’t know how to fall. Yes, you read that right. Knowing how to fall is a skill that can be taught. As a kid with CP, I learned how to fall in physical therapy. Picture lots of “falling drills” if you will, where my physical therapist taught me, step by step, how to fall safely. I could walk you through those steps, but for right now I’m going to leave all that for another time. Let’s just say, through all these years I’ve fallen countless times, in hundreds of different ways and scenarios, and have managed to fall down in the exact same (safe) way every single time. No, I’m not exaggerating. All that falling, bumps and bruises sometimes, sure, but never a broken bone *gratefully knocks on wood*. You don’t have to believe me if you’re still skeptical. If you have to see it to believe it, maybe I’ll show you one of these days.
Back to my story. Walking along, bag was causing me issues, right? Ok. By the fourth time the strap fell down, I stopped walking near a lamppost––it puts me at ease to stop near something I can grab onto besides the crutches if I somehow lose my balance––to adjust everything, tried not to get too aggravated. Having to stop and stand in the same spot every few feet makes me more tired, if that makes sense. It also irritates the hell out of me. Mind you, I was already exhausted from my workout at the gym and I still had several blocks to walk until I was home. My legs and feet throbbed in pain and fatigue. Those blocks to home felt like miles to me in that moment.
Enter Kind Stranger.
“Can I help you get situated?”
I looked up and got hit with relief. Phew! “Yes please! I don’t know why this strap is being such a nuisance.”
“Yeah, sometimes with those bags you have to pull the straps and adjust them.” While standing, I carefully removed the straps from my right shoulder––the cooperating side–while this stranger carefully helped me untangle the other straps from my wrist and crutches. I probably looked like a disheveled, frustrated hot mess, but right then I was so relieved and appreciative to cross paths with this woman that I really didn’t care how I looked. “I’m just gonna adjust the straps, ok?” Kind Stranger asked permission before touching my belongings and told me everything she was gonna do before she did it, saying she didn’t want to assume or be intrusive. I might’ve seemed a bit on guard. After all, strangers stopping beside me on the street to help me out did not happen everyday. I was nearly taken aback by her compassion and gentle demeanor.
“Thank you so much! This is rare.”
“People stopping on the street to help me,” I said, ever so honest. She helped me put the bag back on, and the straps fell. Again. “Jeez!”
“I’ve seen people use a carabiner to clip the straps together.” I watched as she reached down to her belt loop, took off her own blue carabiner and detached her keys from it. “Here. Keep it.”
I think my jaw dropped in amazement. What?! Where did this angel come from? To others this might not seem like a big deal. So she gave me her carabiner. Whatever, right? No. It’s not about the carabiner. It’s about an act of kindness and generosity in my time of need. Like I said, people do not usually stop and ask me if I’m ok if I’m stopped on the sidewalk. They just don’t. I don’t expect that kind of help at all, might I add. Probably why I was so touched by the carabiner exchange. Could’ve cried, honestly.
“Oh my goodness….thank you so much!”
“Do you need help clipping it?”
I looked down and knew it was going to be difficult to clip the straps together with the carabiner while standing up and leaning on my crutches for stability. “Yes.”
As she clipped the straps together with the carabiner, she introduced herself. “So, I’m Stacy.”
“Nice to meet you! We definitely should be on a first name basis at this point,” I said, chuckling slightly. Sweet, thoughtful, considerate? My kind of human.
“You might want to fix your headphones so they don’t get tangled. Are you gonna be able to get the carabiner off?” She paused. “…Can you tell I’m a mom and a teacher?”
Sweet, thoughtful, considerate, and funny?! I think I won the lottery!
“Thank you so much, Stacy! It was so nice to meet you,” I said, just before we parted ways, but not before Stacy had me walk a step or two to make sure our carabiner solution actually worked. Such a gem.
“Nice to meet you too! I’ll keep a lookout for ya!” She waved before walking away and out of sight.
There you have it. Just in case you needed something to brighten your day, I hope I was of service. Thank you so much, dear Stacy! This post is for you, wherever you may be.