This morning I went to my little local bank in Akron, Pa., to do bank business.
When I pulled into the parking lot, I immediately noticed something unusual at the door of the bank.
Just a few feet in front of me: a man in a white shirt yelling and motioning with his arm, another man standing by, a big gray box on the ground wedged between the door.
I took a moment to look, trying to determine what was happening. The man in the white shirt appeared to be in some sort of distress, the other man removing his own shirt and gesturing with it.
Deciding it was safe to proceed, I stepped out of my car and approached the two men.
The white-shirted man was a worker who had been remove a large piece of box-like equipment from the bank. The equipment had fallen from the wheeled truck and slammed on his finger, which was caught between the box and the metal door frame. The finger was nearly severed. There were smears of blood on his clothes, the box and other places. One of the bank employees called 911 and stepped out to the curb to flag down the ambulance.
Joining the other man, standing near, who touching his back, I also placed my hands on the man’s back.
Remembering everything that I have ever learned about trauma, I remained the man that we were here, and would stay with him. I asked him if believed in prayer, and he nodded yes, so we prayed together, asking for relief, and strength and safety and goodness.
Once in a while, he asked when the ambulance would arrive. “I need a surgeon,” he said, clearly.
It seemed like forever, but finally we heard the siren, and then the ambulance itself pulled in. The EMT came out.
The white-shirted man walked to the ambulance, knowing help was there.
There is chaos in many places in many parts of the world, in Texas, in the nation’s capital, in Virginia. It’s showing up here in my own life, surrounded by my own little world. In the past week, I’ve heard stories of sickness, of woman falling on the sidewalk of my neighborhood, an accidently tipped excavator in the construction site next door, of a friend getting an unexpected bill. A colleague temporarily lost her wallet. Even I fell during a walk, twisting my ankle, two weeks ago.
Shaken, I walked into the bank to do my business. The teller and I took a breath together.
Later, on my way back home, I realized that there was something amazing in this confluence.
The injured man, whose finger was badly hurt, was Hispanic. The man who stopped to help was African American. The bank teller who called 911, was white. I’m a granddaughter of immigrants. Yet we all were able to come together and help each other during a time of struggle and stress. And perhaps that is all that we can hope to do, to say, “I am here for you.”