Among 7.4 millions people, there is still compassion.
Recently I found myself in one of America’s thriving downtown metropolises. San Francisco is a city filled with tall skyscrapers reaching into the stark blue skies, stretch SUV’s which need several attempts to successfully navigate turning a city block, and people exhibiting enough energy to put a large cup of espresso to shame.
Walking out of a local coffee shop, I found myself turning a corner to see a half-dozen people kneeling down around a young man laying flat on the street, his head resting in a stranger’s palm. A few feet ahead of him a white bicycle, is tool of choice among buses, streetcars and automobiles, lay against a stainless steel flowerpot.
“What happened?” said an older lady next to me.
“He caught his front tire in the streetcar track and got thrown from his bike,” said another.
Looking across the street, I paused to see if there was anything I could do only to find a well-oiled ad-hoc team of strangers working together with the precision of team of trained of medics.
Sitting down on a bench, I found myself captivated by seeing how a half-dozen people, most of who were perfect strangers all on busy on their way to someplace important to them, stopped in their tracks to help a young man.
Towering over the newly assembled team, a tall man in a red and black jacket speaking into his cell phone. From my respectful distance I quickly realized he was speaking with an emergency personnel feeding him qualifying questions as an ambulance worked its way though the congested streets. Another person, a woman, leaned over and softly spoke the words to the young man.
Behind this loosely assembled team, hundreds of people raced past carrying bags from the surrounding department and specialty stores. To them, life outside their destination or cell phone conversation was somewhat a virtual experience.
The man in the red and black jacket instructed the team of how to lift the young man as to slide of his navy blue backpack. Two people held the young man’s shoulders as the woman gently slipped the straps over his shoulders and down the cyclist’s arms.
Sitting on the stainless steel bench, several people briefly paused, a few asking me what was going on across the narrow street.
A moment later the youngest of the team collected the bike and wheeled it across the street and to a bike lock station near my seat.
“How does it look?” I said.
“I think he’s going to be okay,” he said with a distinctive English accent. “He’s quite a bump on his head. Medics are on the way. I’m just locking his bike up for him before they take him away.”
Sirens echo loudly though a tall concrete forest like nothing I’ve ever heard before.
Soon the young man was instructed to sit up as his new friends continued to follow direction being sent though a cell phone.
I guess what I found so refreshing in this experience is even in a city of millions of people, all with their on plans, commitments and desires, the human trait of compassion is still embedded in mankind. For the most part, we do care for each other.
And in this week, a few short days before we celebrate Christmas, my present came a week early.
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