I helped a blind man in the skyway today. I was in the middle of my morning ritual, we’ll call it the 5-7 minute Patience Builder (or, as it also could be referred to: the “ridiculously-long-elevators-which-have-been-under-maintenance-for-the-entire-6-years-we’ve-been-privileged-tenants”, wait), when I hear the click-clicking of his walking stick. I turn to look and when he comes into my sight I watch him realize he is at a fork in the road, and then pause and tap his walking stick. He fumbles about, ultimately going straight when he should be turning left. I hesitate. Surely someone else who is closer will help him? How do you “lead” a blind person anyway? Do you take their arm? Do you offer yours? I certainly don’t know these things. A good 20 seconds after I realize he is going to miss the turn for the skyway and walk himself into the corner, my better judgment kicks in and I hustle over to help him on his way. It’s uncomfortable and clumsy because I'm trying to decide whether to grab his arm or offer mine and I make the quick decision that I should offer him my arm but then he can't see me so then I decide to grab his arm and that feels just plain wrong too. Awk--ward. But, we get the job done and needless to say, he gets where he needs to go.
I turn around to return to my never-ending deferment and am faced with a co-worker holding the elevator doors open (ummm…is that impatience on her face? Annoyance even?) and an elevator-full of eyes on me. As it dawns on me that not only had they been watching me, they also had been waiting for a good minute [a fact apparent to anyone renting in the building because, after an allotted period of time, the elevator doors become aggressive and one has no choice but to use the weight of their body to hold the doors open], I turn an incredible shade of red. To turn this shade of red takes serious skill, let me tell you. Since I feel like having a blog requires a certain degree of transparency, I’ll admit I’m embarrassed to admit, I was embarrassed. “Well that was nice,” says a mouth below 2 of the 16 eyes which are currently glued to me (probably assessing the seriously red situation). She says this to me as one would tell a young child who willing chose to share her prized possessions with her sibling. I’m pretty sure that I mutter something utterly insightful and profound: “oh…” and with that, the elevator doors shut. Longest elevator ride of my life ensues.
Once I reach the safety and privacy of my office, I’m able to sit behind 4 walls which protect me from staring people and gather my thoughts. My skin returns to its normal shade of fake’n’bake and I attempt to gain footing on some of the nagging questions in the back of my mind. Since when is helping a blind person considered “nice”? (I know, it certainly can't be considered "mean", but you know what I mean!) And WHY on earth did it feel like stepping out of my comfort zone to leave my post (albeit trading my opportunity to ride the long-awaited elevator with the chance to wait for another 5 minutes) but simultaneously helping someone in need? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with us? Shouldn’t it have been natural? Expected? Easy? Shouldn’t I have been competing with at least a handful of other people who also saw this man and his need?
I mean, this may seem elementary, but let’s get back to basics. Put spiritual dictum to the side, even. What about moral obligation? Mortal obligation? I mean…we’re all fellow human beings here, needing help, right? We all need someone to offer us an arm, however clumsily, when we’re fumbling about and going in the wrong direction. So why is it a challenge to make that decision, to reach out, to help when it's so apparently needed?
I don’t want to get all preachy on a Friday, but I just needed to chew on this a little. I guess the smallest areas can sometimes be the hardest areas to step-out. It may be easy to make the “right” decision when it’s something big and obvious blaring you in the face. But what about the little things? The details? What about the million choices in a day that make up the bigger picture? What about the PEOPLE around us? What about showing love?
So, even though it may be Fun-Friday, I'm going to spend some time pondering these questions. Who am I impacting? And for what purpose? Who am allowing to make an impact on me? Maybe if you, too, have found yourself feeling introspective on Fun-Friday you can take a walk with me, and ponder these questions, as well. Because, let's face it: soul-searching, it’s good for the…(er?)…soul.
On a similar note, I also must mention I believe it's true that you reap what you sow. Later, the evidence of this is found on my desk in the form of a fresh from the oven [600 calorie] blueberry scone. The attorney who held the elevator doors for me, you suggest? Nahhhh...I'm sure she had met her quota for the day at fighting with the elevator doors. The highly caloric [read: divine and delicious] treat was probably from someone else. Although I suppose it's possible she is trying to make me fat.