I have a long history as a walker. I’ve been engaged in that activity since 1988. It has served me well in so many ways from creating a path of clarity though some difficult times to keeping this now 64 year old body in motion and reasonably limber.
My sister has recently taken up walking as well. This past Saturday after serving breakfast at our Asheville Bed and Breakfast we struck out for the road~ water bottle in hand. Nearby the inn is a greenway, a perfectly lovely place to walk and designed as pathway in which one is likely to meet and greet both their neighbors and their pets. It was a perfectly lovely morning for a walk well timed for avoiding the more intense heat and humidity that would surely accompany the later hours of the day.
My sister and I use our walking time to talk about items of daily life, our shared recollections of our childhood, our Mom, now gone to heaven some 5 years ago but seemingly just yesterday to both of us and much, much more. All kinds of topics come up for discussion during this time together.
We came to the end of the greenway part of our walk and turned Right onto Magnolia Street heading back to the inn. Waiting for us upon our return were the remains of the breakfast dishes. We’d taken only a few steps when we took note of a congress of people up the way a bit on the left side of the street. I did not have my glasses on but as we made our approach something seemed a bit out of sorts. A woman was leaning up against the front of her car holding what appeared to be a belt sander very close to the front of her body. Bent down in front of her were two gentlemen who appeared to be trying to use screw drivers on the belt sander she was holding. Everyone, the woman and the two men looked a bit alarmed.
As we approached they looked up. I also, closer now, got a good luck at the woman’s face. I asked what was wrong. It would seem that the woman had inadvertently turned on the sander by mistake. When she did this, the sander sprung to life and pulled the carry pack she was wearing about her waist and also apparently part of her abdominal skin into the inner mechanism of the belt sander. Her abdomen was quite literally enveloped in the belt sander. The gentlemen present, her neighbors, one of which she knew and had gone to get after realizing her rather dire distress. She needed help to get released from this machine. The man, clearly her best hope and another man, were desperately trying to dismantle the belt sander in order to free her abdomen. I asked her if she thought much of her abdomen was taken into the machine and she felt it was not. Clearly she was not bleeding out, nor shocky because they’d been out there for some time when we’d encountered them. I recommended that they get her a chair so she was at least able to sit while they worked on disengaging her from the belt sander. Also, the belt sander was heavy and as she was the one “engaged” into it, I thought she would best be able to determine the best position for this tool creating the least amount of pain for her.
I told all of them that I was going back to the inn to obtain a clean cloth which I felt would be useful to have on hand in case there was bleeding when they finally freed her from the sander. Jane and I walked on with both men still working diligently on the belt sander wishing nothing more than to help this woman who clearly needed their help.
We went hurriedly to the inn to secure the promised cloth. With the scene of these three in my mind I began to think of all the racial unrest brandished on nearly every headline you see recently. I mentioned earlier that the woman stuck in the sander went to seek her neighbor’s help understanding she was in real trouble. Her neighbor is black. She saw only a neighbor. He did not care that she was a white woman. He didn’t see that. He saw his neighbor in real trouble and sought only to help. The man who later came to help was also a black man. These people saw nothing of each other except that one person was in trouble, had gone to another to seek aid and aid was provided.
Asheville is a city of diversity. Rich, poor, well educated, less educated, hard workers, trust fund kids, black, hispanic, white, gay, straight…Everyone seems to get on well most of the time. We work on that actively here. I do not live in a fairy land where I am clueless to the real problems of race in the United States but this much I’ll say clearly. In all my years of nursing, I’ve never had an organ recipient ask what color or ethnicity their donor was. After the first incision, it’s patently clear we’re all the same either way. All I ever heard was gratitude and a feeling of being blessed to have received such a gift. In the military when I served, no soldier ever cared who had their back, just as long as someone did. On 9-11 no one cared what color the fire and first responders where. They just didn’t want to die that day.
I took another walk the other day taking the same path as the day I came upon my neighbor stuck in the belt sander and the two men doing all in their power to aid and assist. I met Sam by name this time again that day. He was one of the men trying to help the lady stuck in the sander. I told him I had returned with the promised cloth and they were gone. He explained the entire procedure, including scissoring off her clothing to try and get her loose. My sister and I told Sam how nice he was to offer his help. What a kindness it was. He was only trying to help he said and jokingly, I dubbed him Dr. Sam that day. We all laughed as Jane and I said goodbye to Dr. Sam and walked on.
I hope to get to know “Dr.” Sam better. I have a feeling if just that one small thing could happen… All of us getting to know each other better, I’d be reading fewer horrible headlines. For today however, Hope Floats in Asheville. I bet it floats in your town too.