The Kindness of a Stranger
A Commentary By Susan Estrich
I was power walking up Broadway in New York City last Tuesday, when something went terribly wrong. The world started spinning. I literally couldn't see straight.
It was a hot day. I'd been on a plane for six hours. Nothing to eat. Five cups of coffee. Not much sleep the night before. In my life, what else is new? This had never been enough to knock the globe off its axis.
You know what people say about New York: the jungle. I went into a convenience store and found two dollars in my purse for a drink. No one asked me why I kept covering one eye and then the other, trying to get something into focus.
I took the drink outside and managed to get it open and take a sip, but the world kept spinning. I sat on the stoop in front. To the extent that I could think, I was terrified.
And then a woman came up to me. I don't know what she looked like, how old she was, what color her skin was. I only remember her voice coming through the fog, asking me if I was OK. I wasn't. Do you need help, she asked. I do.
As I sat on that stoop, literally collapsing, I heard her call an ambulance. I heard a voice full of calm and compassion. I heard her describe the corner, say no, she didn't know what was wrong, that she had just come across a woman at the corner and would stay with her until the ambulance came, would make sure I didn't hit my head or hurt myself.
And she did.
I think she sat down next to me. I know she spoke kindly to me through the fog and the terror.
I was carrying a purse full of credit cards and money. I was still carrying it when I got to the hospital. I was wearing an expensive watch and a fancy (looking) ring. I was still wearing them when I got to the hospital. She could have slipped off the watch or the ring, or looked in my purse for my ID and found hundreds of dollars and a stack of credit cards. I would not have known or cared.
Instead, she sat with me and protected me until the ambulance arrived. You might say she saved me. That's what I think.
There's not much chance of her reading this. But it's the only way I have to say what is in my heart.
In my life, I have been badly hurt by strangers. I have learned to live with my fear, but never to conquer it. I am not an optimist by nature. In my life, things have not always turned out for the best.
For many years, I thought that if only I worked hard enough, did enough people enough favors, piled up the IOUs and the private numbers, I could somehow protect my loved ones. Of course, it isn't so. There is no amulet, no Rolodex big enough, no place safe enough.
I wasn't worried about myself when I went out for my power walk; I was thinking of the friend I was going to visit, who had been through a difficult time with her health, and who would, an hour later, be by my side in the emergency room.
I worry too much, and sometimes I worry about all the wrong things. I don't trust, I verify.
But sometimes, there is nothing else. Sometimes, our fate is in the hands of a perfect stranger, who we never get to thank. This is the best I can do. Thank you. And God bless you.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentaries
See Other Commentaries by Susan Estrich
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.