Caroline and I were at our local drop-in clinic this morning. I carried a thick book to bide me through the wait while she swayed on her walking cane. She’s up and about, but not out of the woods. Like many medical waiting rooms, this one was packed and, it being February in Canada, everyone was bulky with coats, hats, scarves and boots; the heating was up high too. It would be enough to put anybody in a bad temper (well, me at least), but no—everyone looked on cheerily, eying Caroline as if they were just dying to jump to their feet for her. First, however, she had to hold down a form with her elbow while filling in her vitals and clutching her bag and cane in the other. Yes, I could have helped, but she’s thoroughly sick and tired of other people doing stuff for her that should be effortless; it takes considerable self-control sometimes to stand back and let her be.
She handed over the papers, someone offered a seat and down she sat. I was just heading outside to wait when two other people shifted themselves to free up a spot for me next to Caroline. Everyone exchanged chit-chat smilingly as they did so, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find myself actually choking up at the innate kindness of human nature. Everyone was in there being nice to one another, unknowingly breaking down my cynicism, and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
People really are good, or at least they prefer to be when they have the opportunity and the mental space to pay attention to others. We’re so busy running around these days that we don’t really notice others unless our situation brings us together—in this case a clinic waiting room. How much easier it is to commiserate with others when we recall our own vulnerability.