Sunday, December 15, 2013

Look Around You

This is not the actual restaurant, but it captures the layout.

   As regular readers know, we have been nursing our elderly Siberian Husky Jared, back to health for a couple of weeks, and that we will go to fairly extreme means to coax him into eating.   Yesterday, despite the snow and intermittent sleet, I needed to get diesel for one of my vehicles and a couple of other incidentals.  I decided to stop by a fast food joint and get a few of the dollar menu items without pickles to keep Jared eating.  The vet had said that so long as we are feeding him something.....anything, and that his meds are continuing, that she is alright with the practice of feeding him and keeping his appetite alive with fast food.  It was lunchtime and I luckily found a parking place.   I bought five pickle-less dollar rib sandwiches which Jared likes so well, and are especially useful as his lactobacillus acidophilus and other meds can be fit between the meat and the bread and he eats as if he hasn't noticed.   I decided to get myself a salad with chicken.  They filled my order and I sat eating the salad with Jared's bag sitting on the table next to me, since the long drive home would make them quite cold anyway.

               It was crowded at lunchtime.  Lots of people were in and out, most of them buying the larger menu items which are now between five and seven dollars per meal.  As I ate my salad, I noticed a man in a wheelchair and his wife navigating the restaurant after their meal.  The man had a stump dressed in the manner in which a new amputee does. He had a fairly recent below the knee amputation.  His wife pushed him out to the car.  Being a registered nurse, I could not help but notice his transfer from the chair to the front seat of the car.  With time, locking the wheelchair, balancing on one foot and using the man's own upper body strength to get into the car will be possible, and probably ultimately easy for him.  His wife would then fold and out away the wheelchair in their car.  However, this wasn't the case this time. Down the man went in the chasm between the wheelchair and the front passenger seat of their car. His wife struggled to get him up, and as the snow fell as he sat on the cold blacktop and she couldn't.  No one in the crowded restaurant or going in and out stopped to help as they walked by.  I left my food, stuffing my wallet in my coat.   "Sir,  Ma'am,   I'm a nurse, can I help ?"  "Yes, please", they nodded.   His wife and I gently hoisted him to the car seat. I made sure that he had not been injured in the gentle descent to the parking lot.  I explained that in time, and with practice, his upper body strength would permit him to make a wheelchair to car transfer, but that this was early in the recovery process to be doing that.  I showed them how his wife could position the chair so that he could pivot with her lifting assistance, until he recovered and developed more upper body strength.  They stated that this was the first time they had been out in the two weeks since his amputation surgery.  With that, they thanked me, and were on their way.  I hoped they could pivot safely at home when they got there or perhaps get the help of one additional person.

            I went back in, washed my hands, and finished my salad.   To the throngs of people in the restaurant and the parking lot, the man, his wife, and myself had been invisible.  It wasn't racism that prevented people from helping them.  They were African American, but so were half the people in the restaurant.   Perhaps the simple suggestion that a lifetime of eating there would lead to Type II diabetes, and potentially an amputation was too much for them to consider.  Anyone could have helped him back into his car, or assessed that he was injured, if he had been, and then called an ambulance.  People looked away. 

          I went home pondering a couple of things.  Why would people ignore the acute need of an aging couple in a fairly new car,  just a couple of feet from a fast food restaurant ?   What kind of a culture are we when a brief hand to an older man is too much trouble ?  What kind of a hospital discharges a patient with very little to no instruction on his transfer from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to car, and precautions to be taken in snow and ice in order to prevent additional injuries during his recovery ?

         I know I can't enable everyone by doing everything from buying their meds to doing their laundry.  However, we need to be able to do simple things for one another, especially if these are of low risk to us.  If we lose our humanity then what right have we got to be celebrating Christmas later this month ?


BBC said...

I live in a smaller town at the edge of this country and plenty of folks here would have helped them. No way would I ever live in a big city again. But in time I suppose the man will have to get a van with a chair lift.

The Safeway store here has a section where they put the discounted meats that are at the shelf life date, I often buy and cook them right away and run it through my old hand grinder, makes great hamburger or sandwich spreads. And a block away is a discount bakery that gives me free bread every time I go there, I could feed such a dog pretty cheap. Hell, I feed me and the old lady next door cheap, and give the left over bread to the gulls out on the spit.

Humble wife said...

I wonder this many times as things happen and people seem to be oblivious. A verse in the New Testament is chilling, because it makes me see how things were they are again. As in the days of Noe (Noah), were, so shall the also the coming of the Son of man be.

In spite of the world around us, we MUST continue to carry ourselves with the character of who we are. We must never allow the world determine who we are.

Thank you for sharing, and thank you for doing. You are an example to us all.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

You are watching the start of the dark ages.

JaneofVirginia said...

I only did what I think anyone would do. I hope that the reason no one helped is that they simply hadn't noticed. However, I expect that not to be completely true. Thanks for posting.

JaneofVirginia said...

It certainly looks that way sometimes.

JaneofVirginia said...

This happened sixty miles from a town of any size. This surprised me. Thanks for your posts.

Gorges Smythe said...

It surprises me the number of people who move through the world with apparent tunnel vision and really DON'T see anything around them. I suppose their mind must be a universe away. However, I'm sure you're right that SOMEBODY had to see what was going on. For those, I'm afraid Humble wife is on the money. Thanks for doing the right thing.

Mamma Bear said...

Since I have a son in a wheelchair I am always mindful of anyone who needs help and always try to open doors, etc...I have never encountered anyone who has fallen. . People leave shopping carts in the handicap spots and when I park I clean those up as well. People are just horrible. A couple of years after my sons injury we took him to a David Copperfield show in Panama City, FL. Now mind you these were all assigned seating. My son is in a large wheelchair as he has to sit in a semi reclining position. As soon as the auditorium doors opened people were literally climbing across my sons feet and legs to get around him. I have never seen such animal behavior in my life. What really put the icing on the cake was we were seated in the handicap area reserved for wheelchairs. I had purchased these tickets in this section because at that time my son could only look to the right. Coppefield had one of his tricks set up in this area and we were according to him holding up the show and needed to move.. The ushers came and moved us to the back end of the auditorium (cheap seats) and my son spent the evening staring at a wall.. I complained and we were told to call a certain person and get our money refunded. When I finally got in touch with this person they didn't know anything about it and could not help me. Those tickets weren't cheap as they were near the front where my son could have seen the show..

We very seldom go out where there will be large crowds any longer. One of our local movie theaters is wonderful. Anyone in a wheelchair and one guest is allowed in free of charge. I see a few older couples taking advantage of this at times. It's good to know that there is a little compassion left in a few businesses. Most of the time handicap spaces are a joke.

PioneerPreppy said...

Out here near my place any number of people would have helped them including myself. In a city, no friggin way, you just do not know what kind of weirdness you can run into even with people who look like they could use some help. I have seen wheel chair bound people fall completely over and struggle and yet scream hatefully at someone when they try and help them to the point of making a huge scene. Vengeful, hateful screaming mind you and that started back in the 80's and 90's when it was some kind of self esteem thing for the handicapped to become offended when someone offered to help them. Add liability concerns to the mix and things get even more questionable.

People just don't know what to do anymore.

Yet when a real disaster hits and all that is taken away, you see people helping others still. When it falls outside the legal and social mess the Liberals have created and those gentle souls can be lost in the anonymity of the chaos they do still help. All we need to do is weaken the iron fist of social engineering and things will improve.

kymber said...

Jane - i`ve witnessed similar incidences back in the city....and it bothers me that no one `noticed`or helped at all. the world is going crazy as we all know, but as Humble Wife says, it is our actions and deeds that define our character. i am glad that you helped the man and lady, they were probably terrified when he slipped and with your calming character and words of advice, i imagine that you calmed them right down.

as an aside, jam is out trying to plow our driveway with the atv. it stalled halfway up the driveway. jam was down trying to pull it up the driveway with the truck when a neighbour went by and stopped. the neighbour has a proper winch and he and jam are now winching it into our neighbours truck and taking it to our neighbour`s house as his son is a bit of an atv genius and will fix it for us. our neighbour said he`ll be back tomorrow morning to plow us out. i love living in a remote little area where everyone helps each other.

thanks for your good deeds today, Jane. your friend,

JaneofVirginia said...

I like to think that "anyone would do the right thing" however I think yesterday, they didn't. Thanks for posting, Gorges.

JaneofVirginia said...

Mamma Bear, That's terrible ! David Copperfield owes you both a personal show !

My son (who was struck by lightning) has a handicapped placard. We only very rarely use it because we are aware that other people need it more than we do, especially if the space is designed for a handicap equipped van.
One of my dearest friends has severe asthma. When she was attending college, she had a handicapped placard because she truly could not walk twelve blocks to her class. People at her university actually spat on her when they saw what looked like an able bodied person using a handicapped space. The fact is we never know who needs to use one for a cardiac, lung or MS issue. My friend has her Phd now, and doesn't actually have a handicapped placard now. She remains eligible, but feels that she is a target if she uses one. What a world !

JaneofVirginia said...

I was concerned about liability for about a tenth of a second until I realized that in Virginia, and in many other states, the Good Samaritan Law does cover RNs and MDs who aid people in such an emergency, and here it usually stands up in court. Perhaps people just didn't know what to do.
Thanks for posting.

JaneofVirginia said...

They were nice people, and they were grateful for the assistance.
Please ask Jam to be careful. ATVs can be so dangerous even when used as intended ! Thanks for your post.

BBC said...

I have a handicapped placard in my truck for when I take Helen places but would never think of using it for close parking for myself. I figure that walking is good for me, at least it beats jumping to conclusions and running off at the mouth. :-)

Keith H. Burgess said...

Good post. I never have managed to get my head around these sorts of people. I have seen so called chistians come out of church & totally ignore a person lying on the ground obviously in need of assistance. These people have already lost their humanity.
Regards, Keith.

JaneofVirginia said...

It does. I think most people wouldn't misuse a placard, but I hear they have become harder to get as a result of misuse.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for your post, Keith. My husband and I call people like that "conspicuous Christians", or people who embrace the label without the spiritual understanding, decency and humanity to go with it. I will not soon forget that when our 12 year old son died, some of the least therapeutic and least enlightened comments were made by ministers !