Last week, my scooter hit a hidden pothole when I cut through a puddle. I flew forward over my handlebars, hitting my face, hands, and knees on the ground. This is an open letter to the Good Samaritans of New Haven who picked me up.
To the three women who rushed over to my side the moment it happened: Though I could feel the blood rise in my cheeks (for multiple reasons!) and told you I was fine, you stayed by me regardless–helping me sit up, giving me your unopened water bottle to clean my wounds, showering me with paper towels, grabbing a nearby officer for help, offering to call Yale Health. Thank you for your urgency, and more importantly, your refusal to leave until I got help.
To the police officer at Beinecke Library: You hurried out with a giant first aid kit and told me to take anything I needed, anything at all. You didn’t blink as I stashed gauze and packets of antibiotic ointments into my pockets. You asked me, seriously, Are you okay? Because I have two daughters and as a father I just want you to be safe. Thank you for your paternal concern and your aid.
To my roommate who happened to be in the right place at the right time: You caught sight of me out of the corner of your eye. The next moment, you were by my side like an angel sent from the heavens, lifting me up, collecting my scattered belongings, righting my scooter. You immediately cancelled whatever plans you had for that day and walked me back to our dorm, telling me to rest, rest, rest, and kindly suggesting I visit Yale Health. Thank you for being there, for teaching me that love is putting another person’s needs in front of your own.
To the doctor and nurse at Yale Health: You made me feel so loved in your parental concern, clucking over me, gently chiding me. Your jokes made me feel better (some models pay millions for collagen lip injections but you got a swollen lip for free!). You assured my vanity that I would not scar if I took care of the wounds, and gave me handfuls of more ointment, medical masks, and ice packs. Thank you for your sound advice and reassurance.
To my friends: You insisted that I show you my wounds, so I took off my mask. You then insisted that I keep it off, that I am beautiful regardless, that there is nothing to hide. Instead of offering condolences you offered, I’ve seen worse, pulling up pictures of the time you smashed your face into a rock and got 17 stitches, but look at me now it’s like nothing ever happened! Indeed, there was only a small scar. I was oddly heartened by the story of your injury, and began to believe that I would quickly recover. Thank you for making me laugh through the pain.
Last Thursday, my face-to-face with pavement allowed me to experience an encounter with kindness. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, writes Tennessee Williams, and I haven’t been let down yet.