Giving You A Bridge To Cross

, , , , , | Hopeless | September 2, 2018

Almost exactly ten years ago, when I was a University student, I struggled badly with depression. It reached its worst when, over the course of about a month, I started to struggle with my course, began having financial difficulties and housing issues, and found out that my girlfriend had been cheating on me for months. It got bad enough that I tried to take my own life.

One night I walked to the edge of town where there was a bridge that crossed over a railway line. I sat down on the edge of the bridge with the intention of jumping in front of the next train that passed underneath me.

Some time after I got there, I saw a man approaching where I was sitting. He very calmly sat down next to me on the edge of the bridge and all he said to me was, “If you want to talk, I’ll be here all night.”

True to his word, he was there all night. I think it must have been somewhere around three or four hours before I could bring myself to say anything, and as soon as I started talking I absolutely broke down, crying so hard that I could hardly breathe, almost unable to get any words out at all, but this man kept sitting there, not pressuring me into talking, not trying to make me move away from the edge, just being there so I didn’t feel alone.

After a while of this, I remember him speaking up again, although I have no recollection of what he said. What I do remember is getting up and walking away from the edge of the bridge, and this man draping his coat over my shoulders and waiting there with me for an ambulance to arrive to take me to hospital. The last thing I remember is him giving me a hug and saying something like, “I hope things get better for you from here,” and that was that; I got in the ambulance and he went on his way.

Ten years later, I’ve gone on to finish my degree, travel the world, meet the love of my life, and get married, Now I have my first child on the way. I have never forgotten what that man did for me. He saw a stranger in need, and when he could so easily have walked on and ignored it, he chose to give up an entire night of his life to give what support and comfort he could, and if it wasn’t for his actions I wouldn’t be here today.

I never saw him again after that, but I still have his coat. It hangs at the front of my wardrobe, and every single day I see it and it reminds me that there are some truly good people in this world.

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Getting To The Meat Of This Homeless Issue

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | August 26, 2018

Until I met my husband — a much more jaded person than I — my attitude when encountering a street person begging was: If they need it so much they’re begging for it, then they’re in a worse position than I am, and I’ll give it to them. I don’t care if it makes me a sucker, and I don’t care what they use it for.

I will never forget one birthday with him. At my request we went to a vegan restaurant in Portland, Oregon, where I was prepared to be dazzled by the food. I am a vegetarian; he is not.

It turned out to be not all that. The food was really greasy, and I couldn’t understand why it was so freaking popular, but we boxed up the expensive leftovers to go and headed back home.

We knew there would be a lot of street people on our way home, and hatched a plan to give the leftovers away, hopefully to salvage what was left of my birthday by doing something good, at least. But we didn’t see anybody begging for food in Oregon, and when we crossed over the border back to Washington, we were keeping a watchful eye out.

Finally, on one street corner, there was an apparently homeless teenager looking for handouts. We approached him and offered him the leftovers. He looked a bit wary and sad when he said, “I’m a vegetarian.” (For anyone who’s not a vegetarian, that may sound petty; like, “Well, if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat it!” But as a nearly lifelong vegetarian myself, I can tell you: No, we won’t.)

I couldn’t believe my luck when I heard that. I told him, “It’s from [Restaurant]. It’s vegan!” I felt like the Universe had ordained this entire incident, and in our rear-view mirror we could see him eating out of the box as he walked away.

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Seeing A Narwhal On The Sea Wall

, , , , | Related | August 15, 2018

(I’m going for a walk on our local sea wall. I see a woman and a perhaps seven- or eight-year-old girl coming toward me. As they pass, I hear the little girl say happily:)

Girl: “Now that I know that unicorns are real, there’s all sorts of things I can believe in!”

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The Cosmos Of Kindness

, , , , , , , | Hopeless | July 5, 2018

This is one of those weird cosmic coincidences. Five or so years ago I was driving home from work and noticed a homeless girl, probably in her early 20s, standing at the exit of an underpass. It was the middle of a Phoenix summer in the afternoon, so this girl was braving near 115-degree weather, which is hot enough to cause heat stroke. Her shirt was in tatters, held together with safety pins, and she only had a rough-looking bag slung over her shoulder.

As I didn’t have any food or cash on me, I pulled over and talked to her. It turns out she’d been kicked out of her home by an abusive now-ex boyfriend, who had destroyed all of her belongings out of spite. I offered to get her some healthy food from a nearby grocery store, which she gladly accepted. In the end, I got her some healthy-ish meals that wouldn’t spoil easily — lots of dried fruits and unsalted nuts — vitamins, a new shirt, and tampons, as the poor girl had been without for several months. She was immensely grateful, and refused any further help from me. She went about her day, and I quickly forgot the incident.

Fast forward a few years later, and one of my roommates was in a horrible car accident. When I rushed to the hospital, guess who the EMT who got her in the ambulance was?

That girl helped save my roommate’s life, and I’ll forever be thankful to her for it.

Just goes to show you that kindness really can save a life!

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He Jay-Walked Right Into That One

, , , , | Legal | June 20, 2018

(I am walking the street when I cross the road about 200 hundred metres from the traffic lights. There are about ten office workers standing around smoking. When I cross there are no cars coming. When I am passing the office workers, a cop runs across the road; by now the lights have changed and three cars have to slam their brakes on to avoid hitting him.)

Cop: “Miss, you just jaywalked. I’m going to have to fine you.”

Me: “What? I’m not within 20 metres of the lights. And if I did, then you did, as well, and almost caused three accidents.”

Cop: “Don’t be a smart-a**e; otherwise, I’ll arrest you for obstructing the course of justice, as well.”

(I’m stunned and not sure what to do.)

Office Worker: “Hey, let him. That way he’ll get into s***. There’s CCTV cameras that would have caught the whole thing, and I’ll back you up.”

Other Workers: “Yeah, me, too.”

Cop: “Um… Well, just don’t do it again.”

(He then crossed again without looking, almost causing another accident. Thanks to the office workers, I wasn’t fined, but I wish I had got the camera footage and taken it further.)

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