It’s comforting to realize and remember that complete strangers are out there and willing to help me if necessary. I’ve encountered dozens of these people throughout my life. The interesting thing is that I never know when one of these meetings will occur. I don’t remember all of them, but I do remember some.
I met one of my favorite helpful characters one night about ten years ago. At the time I was still walking but could not stand up from a chair without a friend’s help by using my old trick for standing up.
My friend Ruthie and I were eating all sorts of crazy Thai food — the main thing I remember were these crispy wiry noodles called Mee Krob, which I loved. So we ate and sat and talked for a while until it was time to go.
Ruthie knew the drill and I prepared to stand up with her help. For some reason, my shoe was sliding a bit on the floor, however and I couldn’t get to standing right away.
Just as I was about to plop down and try again, I felt two thick arms reach around and bear hug me from behind. A noticeably German voice bellowed, “I help you! I help you! Let’s go!” and suddenly I am being jerked about in almost every direction while bouncing off the plump bosom of this large German woman.
Ruthie laughed hysterically at the sight.
Finally I said, “Hang on! Hang on! Let’s start over!” and the woman finally released her clenching grip.
She started to tell me all about the man she takes care of and that she can lift me up all by herself! Or at least that’s what it sounded like through her broken English. I could just imagine her hoisting up the old man and spinning him over her head like a baton, all while wearing a traditional German costume.
I explained to her that I would love her help but I just needed her to put her foot down on the floor to block mine from sliding while my friend lifted me. We tried it, and I could see her trying to restrain herself from grabbing me again while Ruthie successfully hoisted me from my chair.
I got upright and composed myself and thanked the large German woman for her help. Ruthie and I got in the car and laughed all the way home. Now whenever I see her, Ruthie breaks out her German voice imitation and I appreciate that I can laugh about all of it!