by Rena Fagel
A word I use often lately is “busy”. I seem to cram more necessary tasks into every available minute of my day. So with that as background, on Thursday, July 6, 2006, I headed out to pick up dinner for my husband (I don’t cook).
Many suburban restaurants in my town of 55,000 now offer curbside pickup, where you pull into a specially designated parking space and wait for the server to bring your food to you. I headed to the one where my husband had phoned his order.
As I waited in my parking spot at the restaurant, I saw an old man coming out of the restaurant’s door. He had a labored walk, and carried a single-hand walker (the kind that has four legs which sprout at the bottom of a cane).
As he came through the door, for no reason I could discern, he fell.
This happened very quickly. As I registered that he had fallen and saw the confusion on his face, I started to get out the car and go to him. But the curbside server beat me to it. “Bill” was immediately down on his knees in front of the man, quietly telling him to remain still and asking if he was hurt.
The old man was clearly still coming to grips with what had happened and didn’t answer for a few seconds. He looked up into the face of the server with slight confusion on his face. The server talked to him some more, in a soothing fashion. When Bill had elicited from the man that he thought he was uninjured, Bill told the man to stay where he was and he’d pick him up.
And pick him up he did. Carefully, but firmly. There was not a hint of discomfort or awkwardness about Bill as he righted the man back to a standing position.
Bill then quietly inquired further as to whether the man remained uninjured. When the responses he received were safe, he walked with the man to his car. As I watched them, their backs to me, the server maintained a respectful but protective distance from the man. He lightly kept his right hand in contact with the small of the man’s back, clearly mindful of the fall the man had taken and concerned for him.
When they got to the man’s car, the server ensured that the man got into it comfortably and safely.
It’s a pity sometimes that words can’t convey the nuances of an event or an experience. That server was so incredibly respectful and careful of the fallen man’s dignity. It was evident in his every move, in the tone of his voice, and in the care and concern he provided through his thoughtful actions.
I was impressed and touched. I tipped that server *heavy* when he brought out my order and I told him why. Then I headed home. I had just witnessed common, everyday compassion, and it was foremost in my mind.