My biggest beef when it comes to living in Melbourne, and probably most major cities, is the selfishness of people. I know, for myself, if I can help someone, I will. I have a first come, first serve mentality, and if I’m flexible with my time, I will change things to be able to help, yet there are always people, like my kids and a few friends who will always come first over others. But if someone needs real help, I will do what I can to make their life a little bit easier, no matter who they are.
Yesterday, I was put in a situation, where I was walking Dexter my dog, and a lady was walking the opposite direction with her dog, at quite a fast pace. She asked me if I was going to the dog park? and I said yes. She told me to be wary of a lady who’s own dog had just bowled her over and was lying in the park. This lady, this stranger, was off to get the injured lady’s daughter to come help. I got to the park, and the lady was sitting up on the ground, but obviously hurt with a black eye and what looked like a broken and very swollen nose that was bleeding. I asked her is she was OK, or if she could move, but she was in serious shock and could only say ‘I don’t know.’ I asked her if she wanted me to call her an ambulance, and she again said ‘I don’t know.’ I asked her if she had an ambulance membership, and she said ‘yes,’ so I called 000 (Australia’s emergency number) and got the ambulance to get her. She said that, besides her face hurting, her shoulder and arm was really sore, as well as her knee and hip. I held onto her dog, until her daughter and the original lady who went to get help returned. Another lady was walking her dog in the park, and went into her house to get a blanket and heat pack to keep her warm. Her daughter’s neighbour (a 40+ year old man), came down on a skateboard with a doona to make her feel comfortable. The ambulance took almost half an hour to help her, and went the wrong entrance of the park, that delayed them even more, but at least all these strangers made her feel comfortable during the wait. And all these strangers, in a usually fairly self-centred community, came to the rescue of this 70 year old lady in the middle of a park on Easter Sunday morning.
It gave me renewed hope about the community. I see all that type of help in rural areas, where everyone has each other’s backs, but the city is so fast paced, people don’t see beyond themselves.
But we are also bred to be independent. The way this beautiful 70 year old lady didn’t want people to fuss about her, even though she knew she couldn’t do it alone. We struggle to ask for help, because of our sense of pride and strength. She kept apologising for falling, she kept apologising for ‘liking’ to walk her dog, she kept apologising for interrupting everyone’s day. Why? We all would like to know that if we need help, we have it. And not only from family and friends, but from strangers as well. She was very grateful for everyone who helped her, and a couple of times she was tearing up from how humble she felt. I kept trying to keep her energy up with a few jokes and witty banter, especially when one of the dog walkers who stayed away, saw this ‘boy’ on a skateboard with a doona under his arm, thinking he was coming home from a sleepover (and the ‘boy’ was a 40+ year old man!).
As a single mum, we are always scared of being alone, or being in a situation where we desperately need help, and we have no one to turn to. If you need help in a public place, you are more likely to get help than if you have fallen in your own home. But then that isn’t necessarily so… I’ve seen countless YouTube videos of young children in the height of winter with hardly any clothes on in the middle of New York City and hundreds of people walking passed, and only a homeless man coming to the rescue of a poor boy, a convulsing lady or an injured man. I, myself, have tripped on the pavement walking my dog and walked home with a bloodied face and leg, and not one person has pulled over and asked if I’m OK. It is literally terrifying not knowing if you have people close enough to call for help or want to help.
No one deserves to be left alone when they are sick or injured. Where is the humanity in our normal everyday lives? At least I saw a glimmer of it yesterday… a glimmer that ensures that there is decency in this world, a glimmer that people will go out of their way for the sake of strangers, but struggle to do it for the ones they love.