I wish I knew all of their names. I do not. The one that stands out, though, is Paul Ryan. But he’s not who or what this post is about. Rather, it’s about our humanity, the humanity we all have and the humanity we must all exercise, unfettered, now more than ever. Here’s my story.
This morning, heading home from dropping Lena off at school and getting a stopper at Ace Hardware to plug the drain in our freshly fixed but not fixed bathtub, I came to the intersection of 32nd and Barclay Streets, almost home. There, I saw a person laying in the street, a bicycle being loaded into a tiny car and two people standing next to the person in the middle of the intersection. It didn’t take long to process that the person laying in the street was a cyclist who’d encountered ice, and then crashed, painfully. He was unable to move, in shock, trembling terribly. I went back to my car and grabbed the blanket Lena had asked me to keep there now that it’s cold outside. Another woman got a blanket from her car, I took off my coat and we packed warmth around the injured man. Another lady was calling 911. The man, Paul Ryan, was securing the bicycle in his car, taking notes (artist’s sketch pad, not a writer’s note pad, as I had thought) and helping direct traffic around the scene. Simultaneously, we were all took turns crouching down and talking to the injured person, getting his name (Josh?), his wife’s name (Meghan?), telephone numbers, keeping him calm.
Very soon, the ambulance arrived. We moved back so that the EMTs could do their work, make their assessment, focusing on his hip which was thought to be broken. We stayed close to one another, the seriousness of the incident and what it meant for the injured man settling in. As the EMTs were getting the cyclist into the ambulance we checked on each other — You okay? Yes. What’s your name? Jenny, Paul Ryan, Sarah (?). Thank goodness we all stopped. Hope he will be okay. Should we all wait for his wife? No, no need. What about the bike? It’s safe. Is that his backpack? Yes. Where is he being taken? Don’t know. By then the EMTs had loaded the injured man into the ambulance and our help was no longer needed.
As we were heading towards our cars and our days one lady, Sarah I think her name is, called us all back and then, into a circle. We embraced, hugged and cried a bit as Sarah, the woman who called us back said “What we just did here…this is what we need more of. I pray that this happens all over the country. Now more than ever we need more of this. I pray God that this happens. I declare it”
There we were, one white man named Paul Ryan (yeah…I know, he said, when my eyebrows went up), one white woman named Jenny wearing a Freddie Gray Black Lives Matter button on her coat, an older African-American woman with dreadlocks and a powerful message and, me, praying for one victim and, in that act, our country… And that’s what this story is about. Humanity. We all have it. Let us not forget, no matter how rocky the road or how slippery the path we encounter, we all have the capacity to help one another, care for one another, be decent human beings. I pray that it be so.