I walked down the street not thinking about much else than my walking. As I passed the alley I saw someone slumped against a dumpster. My first impulse was to keep walking. But I stopped and turned into the alley.
My hackles were up as I measured the area for danger that might be lurking there. There was none so I continued. But my defenses stayed up protectively.
When I got to the woman who had first caught my attention, I noticed that she was healthy looking, well dressed, and sleeping soundly. There did not appear to be any injury or trauma in the areas of body I could see.
I kneeled down and took a closer look. She was breathing evenly and appeared peaceful. So why was she here in this compromising, traumatic appearing situation? What had happened. Did she need my help or should I leave and continue on my way?
Was I taking a risk by trying to help, should I have just kept walking like so many others had done and continued to do. Maybe I should just call the police and let them handle this. Too many decisions.
I gently tugged at her sleeve cuff to see if I could awaken her without startling her. She responded with a slight rearrangement of her position on the alley pavement and a small sigh escaped her lips.
I tugged a second time and the response was stronger. I paused to see what would happen next and probably to think about next steps. My urge to not get involved and noting I still had time to flea the situation continued strong but my sense of "right" was stronger.
While I was processing, her eyes gently opened and she took some time to focus: on me, on her leaning on the dumpster, on the alley, on the stench that the alley brought with it.
In a calm voice I said, "Everything is OK. Your are OK." She continued to be grow in awareness of her situation but remained calm. "I found you lying here and am trying to help. Are you OK? Are you OK?"
She smiled and said, "Thank you. Yes I am OK now. Thank you for stopping." Her ease with her revival was interesting. She did not panic. She did not get upset or frightened. It was as if she had done this many times before.
"You see I am a Diabetic and when my blood sugar gets too out of whack I pass out. Sometimes I get a little warning like I must have had this time and I was able to find a comfortable place to relax." She smiled at her joke.
Slowly she began to sit up on her own. "Can you help me up?" which I did. We walked together out of the alley, into the sunshine of the sidewalk and crossed the street to a nearby Starbucks. I got her settled at a table, got her requested Latte and one for me. We sat together in silence for a while.
"Why did you stop? she asked. "Most people do not respond to my needs and often times I "come to" alone and have to regroup without any help. I think they think I am a drunk or a dopper and I can see their point."
"I don't know. I just guess I am a sucker for a beautiful woman! Especially a Damsel in Distress." I joked. "No really, I just don't know how to ignore a situation in which someone is in trouble. I have a tendency to "walk into" the trouble to try to help.
"Sometimes I get into trouble myself by trying to help. People often are embarassed or distrustful of my intentions, even thought they are in a compromised situation. I have learned how to measure whether my help is needed and am able to gracefully back out."
"Well you did good this time and I appreciate your help. I'll even treat you to your Latte," Susan added.
Luckily, many years later, Susan and my children are healthy and happy and they do not have to face the trials of being Diabetic. With me around to help Susan, and she certainly helps me in ways I cannot count or retell, events like the alley episode no longer occur.
It is amazing where and how love arrives.