Just Crossing the Street

by Mary Beth Seacott
Costa Mesa, California, USA

Just Crossing the Street

Most people will tell you that New Yorkers are a rude and self-centered breed of people. Being born and raised a New Yorker, my experience has proved this theory a myth.

June, 1993, I was living with my parents in Staten Island, trying to find a job and planning a wedding. I started job hunting late one day, but better late than never, right? Making sure I had bus money, I left armed with a ton of resumes. At the corner, a busy intersection, the Don’t Walk sign was blinking. Being a New Yorker, I was going to just cross the street. I stopped myself, thinking, “With my luck, I’d get hit by a truck.” I waited for the light to change.

Once the light changed, I started to cross the street. A white Cherokee was making a turn, so I stopped half way to let him go before I continued. He waved me on. As soon as I turned, I felt something hit me full on my left side. Suddenly, I was laying down with the bumper of a truck at my knees, being pushed along the street. I later found out that I flew in the air for about ten feet, and landed square on my head.

People immediately were around me, asking if I was OK. Somebody screamed, “What’s the matter with you?!” I couldn’t move my left leg because it was numb with pain. A woman who was a nurse made sure I was still conscious. I remember her asking if I was bleeding. She had watched the whole thing happen as she sat at the light in her car. She made sure that no one moved me until the paramedics arrived, so I wouldn’t go into shock.

I only knew our neighbor, Ruth. I rattled off phone numbers for her to call, so someone would meet me at the hospital. I couldn’t believe the crowd of people gathered around me! When the police and other emergency people arrived, they blocked traffic and I was moved into an ambulance. Miraculously, nothing was broken. I had a small cut on my left ear, a contusion on my left leg, and a huge bump on the back of my head.

The screaming I heard was the man from the white Cherokee yelling at the truck driver. Though some people would have kept going because it “didn’t affect them,” he stayed at the scene as a witness.

I had a nurse when I needed one most, and strangers watched out for me when I couldn’t watch for myself. I’m thankful every day for the people that helped me. I know people think New Yorkers are like what they see in movies or on TV: brazen, self-centered creeps. But I know the truth: New Yorkers are people who care about others, who take the time to help another person in need.

Originally published as HeroicStories #149 on June 2, 2000
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 2.

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