Alex (yakshaver) wrote,
Alex
yakshaver

The kindness of strangers

I took a rather stupid fall a couple weeks ago --- stepping off a curb I failed to notice & coming down hard on the heel of my L hand and knee. I decided after some debate not to go to the ER, but did go to the walk-in the next day to confirm nothing was broken. Two weeks later, my knee's more-or-less back to normal, but my wrist twinges like hell pretty much every time I do anything with it. So today it was off to the wrist specialist --- to learn that a severe-enough sprain requires as much immobilization as a fracture (sometimes even more).

So right this moment I'm learning to type in a cast. (Casting type? Cast-typing? ....) It's definitely slow --- OTOH, I'm more productive than I have been the past couple weeks, when I had to take a break after maybe 5 min of typing because it would set my wrist off. By contrast, the cast is annoying but painless.

So, the subject: I decided a while ago that I want to spend more time around SIPB: I've always found it a good environment for learning, and I'd like to get to know the current students. So after I left the hospital, I came to campus. I picked up lunch at Goosebeary's and as I was walking between the Med Center and Ames, noticed my shoe was coming untied. So I stopped at the bottom of the stairs next to the Media Lab, put my lunch down, turned around, put my foot up on a step, and bent over to tie my shoe.

Now, my left hand has not been an entirely reliable contributor in its role in tying my shoes since my stroke. But it turns out that the additional constraint of the cast seems to be too much for it. So a few minutes later, there I am, bent over my shoe, with one shoelace in each hand, staring at them and wondering where the hell I go from here.

Just then, a woman walks up the stairs past me, and turns as she reaches the top, and says "Are you alright?"

"I just got this cast. And I seem to be in the process of discovering that I can't tie my shoes in it."

She starts back down the stairs and before I can say anything, has knelt down and started tying my shoe.

"You're too kind."

I'm no good at ethnicities --- I suspect because it just doesn't seem that important to me* --- but I want to mention that this woman was brown of skin, dressed solidly middle-class, somewhere between 30 and 60. I want to mention that because, during the six months or so I was using a cane, I noticed that every single time someone offered me their seat on the T, it was a dark-skinned woman of indeterminate age and crisply middle-class dress.

* A fact i should probably have cottoned on to when I was 17, and my dad referred to my friend Leslie "that little Jewess." At the time, I was too busy being shocked for it to occur to me that my cluelessness might say something good about me. And then, once Leslie and I had had the "Is your family Jewish?" "What, is this a trick question?" conversation, wondering how he could tell. It was only a dozen years later, when what in retrospect I now know was my third Ashkenazi girlfriend explained that word to me, that it made any sense.
Tags: health, meditations
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