That has to be one of the most comforting phrases you can hear when something bad has happened: “this has happened to me.” It says, you are not alone, this has happened before, and look, I’ve come out the other end of it. And, maybe most importantly, I know what to do.
A horrible thing happened this morning when I was coming out of the station on the way to work. A woman fell – tripped, stumbled, I don’t know – and ended in a sprawl on the pavement. Women around her scrambled to pick up her belongings and put them back in her bag. She got to her hands and knees, curled up, rocking slightly, clutching her mouth. Then she reached out and picked off the pavement a small white thing. She’d lost a front tooth. I didn’t see any blood, but she was all curled up.
We clustered around, comforting her, working out whose dentist was closest because obviously, the tooth needed to go back. Mine was but I’d forgotten my phone so someone else was looking them up on their smartphone. The others were patting her, comforting. She was still on the ground, not moving or saying anything, not able to answer any questions. Maybe she was in shock. I was trying to find the dentist’s number (damn you, D-Spa, put your contact number on the front page!) when a younger girl, maybe thirty if that, said, “I work in this building here. Do you want to take her inside so she’s off the street?”
I said she’d lost a tooth and we were trying to contact a dentist. That’s when the miracle happened. The girl said to the woman, “Oh, this has happened to me. They can fix it. Do you want to come inside with me?” The woman nodded and the girl helped her up and led her into the building to sort everything out.
I’m getting a bit teary thinking about this. That poor woman, what a horrible thing to happen. What a nightmare to lose a tooth. And then, how wonderful that someone was able to come along and, better than the rest of us who were trying to help, say, I’ve been there. I know what to do. You will be okay.
Thank you, everyone who stopped to help this woman. If I faceplanted like that, I’d want people like that around to help me. And thank you, girl with the lovely teeth who worked at the Family Courts, and who stopped to see if she could help.
An interesting point: everyone who stopped to help was a woman. Is it because we are naturally more empathetic and nurturing, or that a man may have feared looking like a creep if he stopped? I don’t think the answer’s simple, but I fear the latter is a part of it.