Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moment of Need

It was just as I reached the bus-stop this evening that another wave of stomach pains hit me. I sat down on the bench and breathed in and breathed out and stared at the floor, fixated on the slightly old vomit where someone else had been unlucky earlier in the weekend. The pains didn't subside and I started to wonder what I was going to do. My phone was in the bathroom at home; there was no-one at work; I had an appointment to get to. I was on my own. The thought of fainting into someone else's vomit was too much so I moved away from the bus stop and lent against the wall at the side of the pavement, staring at the floor and people's feet trotting past, going home, going out, going past all the while trying not to let my panic escalate. "Come on Rachel" I told myself, "breathe and get on the bus. Once you're home you can ring up, cancel the appointment and then lie down".

A hand reached out and took my arm. I looked up and a kind lady slightly older than me said "Let's get you to a cafe so you can sit down and I'll get you some water. Do you need me to call you a doctor?" and with that she walked me over the road and did exactly that. I declined the doctor but almost cried, well, actually, I cried a little bit, at her kindness. She lent me her phone and I cancelled my appointment and then called M who called me an Addison Lee car to come and rescue me. And she waited there, with me, in that cafe, until my taxi arrived and I gave her a lift to her office on the way. On the way, we talked. Two strangers, thrust together into a shared situation. She too was a lawyer who had followed a slightly different career path. She was qualified and successful. She told me that I would be too.

So many people tell me that they could never live in London; it's too dangerous and too impersonal, that no-one cares, that you could die and no-one would notice. Ok, so I once had my purse stolen on a bus but not today. Today I was in the city of London. I needed help and in my moment of need, someone helped me. And I am very grateful.

10 comments:

James Ink said...

That's really nice to hear that someone did that for you. I hope your stomach pains are nothing too serious.

Rachel said...

I know, I was very touched that she did so much for me.

Stomach pains not too serious I don't think, same old story that I wrote about hospital tests a while ago.

How are you James? Are you back and blogging or just reading still?

CeeCee said...

After a foul and dark day yesterday I was determined that today was going to be better - your entry was one of the first things I read this morning and it reminded how good we humans can be to each other.
Thank you.

Today is going to be better (also I brought in a large bar of British Cadbury's so it couldn't be a bad day with that on my desk!)

Peonies and Polaroids said...

I've been in a similar situation in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. About 100 people passed me by each time and not one of them offered help. It seems London is more civilised altogether.

Rachel said...

CeeCee - sorry to hear you had a bad day and I am pleased that my post cheered you up.

Peonies - actually 2 other people offered assistance but I couldn't bring myself to let them help me. It was only when the lovely lady gave me help rather than asking that I realised how much I needed it. Who'd have thought that London would be more sympathetic than Glasgow or Edinburgh?

I have managed to find out her address (she told me her first name and I saw which office she went into)and I am going to send her a card and some flowers to her work. I just hope that's not too much like being a stalker...

James Ink said...

I did think it was probably linked to the hospital tests you had previously. Glad to hear you don't think they are too serious.

No, I'm not back blogging. Kind of put that one to bed, for now at least anyway. I'm still reading a selection of my 'old favourites' though.

The Cwtch said...

What a lovely lady. I'm sure she'd really appreciate a card / flowers and not think it was stalker-like at all. It's amazing how small acts of kindness like hers can have such a big impact, really wonderful. I hope you feel better soon xxx

Rachel said...

James - glad you're still around even if you're not writing at the moment.

the cwtch - she was a lovely lady and I am trying to organise some flowers. so expensive to get them delivered in central London though so I think I shall take some on the way to work tomorrow and leave them in her reception.

It is amazing how small acts of kindness have such big impacts - as if they set off a chain or something!

lain said...

Wow, what a nice story. It's good to know that people like that are still out there, ready to lend a hand when help is most needed.

wontletlifedefineme said...

Thank god for such people. I had a situation like that in the metro last week, where an elderly man tried to walk down the isle of the metro while it started moving. He tried to make a run for the seats where his wife was already seated, but started to fall backwards as he couldn't keep his balance. Me and two others who were sitting down behind where he was falling managed to grab him just in time. My mum always taught me if you want others to be nice to you, you have to be nice to them.

I hope your stomach's doing better?