Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Just trying to be a decent human being and whatnot

A couple weeks ago, I drove to a local Wells Fargo branch during my lunch break at work.  I needed to speak to a banker about closing an account. I was invited to sit in a small waiting area to wait for someone who could help me. I sat down in the standard-issue lobby chair and pulled out my phone. Because, you know, it's 2016 and no one is capable of just sitting quietly for five minutes with no stimulation whatsoever. A minute or so later, in my peripheral vision I saw an older lady walk into the bank and head towards the teller windows. She was just a few feet from me. I don't know what happened, but all at once she went ass over teakettle and was suddenly face down on the floor. I quickly shoved my phone into my purse and ran over to help. I knelt down on the floor next to her.

"I think I broke my glasses - are my glasses broken?" she asked me. I could tell she was pretty upset.

I leaned down and took a look at her glasses. "Don't worry, they seem fine," I told her.

"My knees!" she exclaimed. "Did I trip on something? I just don't know what happened."

I didn't know what had happened either. I had just walked over the same patch of floor that she had slipped on. I chalked it up to bad luck. By then, the banker for whom I had been waiting and a teller were there to help, too. Collectively, we decided to get the lady back on her feet.  I grabbed a chair from the waiting area and they helped her up and eased her into the chair. "I'm heavy!" she said. I think she was a little embarrassed. She was a petite lady, though, so I doubt she weighed too much at all.

She sat in the chair for a few minutes, rubbing her knees, and absorbing what had happened. I felt bad for her.

I went over to sit down with the banker to talk with him about closing the account. "Thank you so much for helping," he said. He said it at least twice more after that. "It was nice of you to help her."

Well, geez. What kind of human being would I be if I had not tried to help a nice lady who had fallen down within six feet of where I was sitting?

I've never considered myself to be a Good Samaritan type or anything like that, but if the opportunity arises . . . sure, I'll help!  Last week my daughter and I were headed to Subway to grab a bite before doing some grocery shopping. As we were driving down a fairly busy road, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Sure enough, there was a small white dog trotting down the sidewalk. No leash, no collar, no person nearby. We've had a lot of snow recently so I was somewhat amazed that I had even spotted the dog.  I wasn't sure what to do. I turned on my hazard lights, pulled closer to the sidewalk, and hopped out.  I called to the dog and was able to get pretty close, but he/she turned and ran farther down the sidewalk. I got back in my car and drove about half a block. This time, I turned into someone's driveway and hopped out again.

The dog did not appreciate my attempts to help and clearly thought I was up to no good. Again, I was able to squat down (taking on a non-threatening posture), turn my gaze away, and speak softly to the dog. I put my hand out. He/she gave a slight lip curl in reply.

I was kicking myself for not having a leash and collar in the car. This dog had neither and was going to be hard to catch. I couldn't believe no one was looking for him/her. The dog was one of those little frou-frou lap dogs, the kind that requires regular visits to the groomer. The dog was at a healthy weight. I didn't know the breed but I think it was something like a Shih-Tzu. Don't ask me - I'm a "big dog" person.  As I squatted in the snow, with temperatures hovering in the mid-20s, I felt like telling the dog, "I don't even like your kind! I'm just trying to help you out!"

I looked up and down the street. It was about 5:00 so a lot of people probably weren't home from work yet. I was convinced that someone must be looking for this dog.  I saw a house that appeared to be occupied.  I trotted up the front walk and knocked on the door. I could see through the window that there was a dog on the back of the couch. A Sheltie, I think. A man opened the door.

"I'm so sorry to bother you," I said, "But there is a small white dog running up and down this street and I wondered if you know whether someone on this block owns the dog?"

"No, I don't know," he responded.  Then he said, "Yeah, I saw him running up and down here a few minutes ago. I wouldn't bother with it if I were you. It'll be fine." I could tell that he thought I was a looney-tune for trying to help the pooch.

"Um, okay, thanks," I said and headed walked back down the walkway.

See, if it had been me . . . if a dog was running up and down my street on a cold day when there was a foot of snow on the ground, at the very least I would have brought the dog into my garage and kept him/ her warm until I could find the owner. But not this guy, I guess.

I'm sorry to say that eventually I did give up. I had spent a half-hour trying to catch the dog and because it was such a busy road, I was worried that eventually I would annoy him enough that he'd run out into the street. I still worry about that ornery little dog. I hope he/she got home safely.

So, yeah, I wasted my time and didn't manage to help the dog in the long run. But you know what? I'd like to think that I taught my daughter, who was sitting in the car and keeping a visual on the dog the whole time, that you should try. You should always try to help if you can.

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