The Kindness of Strangers

It’s cold outside.

Can’t wait to get on the train. Why couldn’t I be on vacation with the rest of the family…?

WHAM

Stars all around me.

Damm that was embarrassing.

The man in the blue suit asks if I’m okay; he tells me not to move.

There’s a girl by my feet. “Hey girl, you alright?” I turn to look at her.

Damn. My head hurts

The man in the suit tells me not to move: I’ve hit my head. I hear the girl by my feet say to someone that she’s on the phone with 911. It’s not that bad. I can get up. The man in the suit rubs my back and tells me not to move. There are more people

Seriously, this is getting embarrassing. I reach to where my head hurts. It’s wet. Is that…?

I hear the girl on the phone, “…she’s bleeding, please hurry!”

Ow.

Okay, seriously. This ground is cold.

OH SHIT! I’m going to be late. Where’s my phone? I reach into my bag. The man in the suit asks if he can make the call. Is it family? No. My students. They’ll be waiting for me. I just started this job. I can’t just not show up. I make the call and tell them what happened. Great. Now I’m going to be late on top of everything else. Lemme just move…

Ow.

The girl by my feet has shooed away bystanders. Tells someone to go inside the pharmacy to get me a compress. Another man shows up. The man in the blue suit continues to rub my back. I tell him it’s cold. The girl by my feet says that the 911 operator said I couldn’t be moved. The man from the pharmacy asks if I need anything else and holds a cold compress to my head. That’s really going to keep me warm. I tell him I’m cold. A woman brings me a jacket and they drape it over me. People walk by and ask if I’m okay. The girl by my feet explains that they’ve called an ambulance.

She starts to pace up and down beside me. “Where ARE they?”

 “Is there anyone we can call for you?”

“My entire family is out of the country on vacation. Unfortunately there’s no one…”

Mikey! I can call Mikey! He lives close by. The girl sees me reach for my phone.

“Actually. Can you call my friend Michael?” I unlock my phone and hand it to her. The man from the pharmacy continues to talk to me. It’s cold. I just want to close my eyes. Or get up off this ground. I move a little to the left.

More stars. This is really hurting. I can feel the bump throbbing.

“What’s your name…?” the girl asks. I tell her.

“Dang. Wrong Michael.”

I hear a man describe me to someone on the phone. The girl asks him if that was 911. They’ve called again. How long have I been down here? The man in the blue suit is still rubbing my back. The girl is still pacing by my feet. It hasn’t been THAT long has it?

”Is this Michael…?” I hear her say. “We’re with your friend…she’s had an accident, and we’ve called an ambulance, but SHE’S OKAY (am I?). We’re right by Simcoe on Queen. She’s hit her head. Yeah. We’ll be here.”

“I got the right Michael. He’s on his way luv…”

Black boots appear in place of the girl.  “Ma’am? Can you hear me? Are you okay?”

Well. Y’know. I’m on the ground. My head is bleeding. Maybe…not?

Matching black boots appear. A radio crackles. They’re cops. I hear the girl say, “YES. We’ve called 911 twice now. It’s been over 15 minutes since I called. She’s been conscious and responsive. She’s even used her phone. How long will the ambulance take?”

The black boots shuffle around me. The woman who brought me a coat is talking to the man in the blue suit. She’s a security guard and needs to get his info. He gives the information and leaves. The man holding the compress to my head talks to the security guard. I hear her ask the girl by my feet for her info. One of the cops says that she can go. She refuses to leave until the ambulance arrives. “Work is work. It’ll be there when I get there…”

“Most people don’t think that way these days.” Says the cop.

“I learned the hard way…”

Sigh. Late for work. My head is killing me. I can’t move. It is FREEZING down here. How long do I have to wait?

Mikey arrives. “Ohmygodareyouokay?” I ask him to call and give him my phone.

The black boots start to shuffle. I think I see flashing lights. The girl by my feet says “FINALLY!”

Finally a lady paramedic is helping me up. I see all the stars.

“Okay. We’re just going to get you to bend your knees. You’ve been down there for some time…”

(REALLY? Hadn’t noticed.)

They wrap me in a warm blanket and wheel me to the ambulance. Mikey is by my side.

Why couldn’t I have been on vacation?

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