One-Armed Helper

by Steve Green
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

One Armed Helper

About six years ago I decided that I needed to improve my fitness. After months of circuit training at the gym I thought it might be fun to commute to work by bicycle. I lived about 20km (12 miles) from work so this was a reasonable serious undertaking.

After psyching myself up I finally bit the bullet and rode into work. It was hard but I enjoyed it. At lunchtime I thought I might be cool to cycle into the city to eat. However, I discovered my bike had a puncture. This rattled me a bit as I was not fully prepared to be dealing with such problems on day one, but I eventually got the puncture repaired and set off. But in my haste I had neglected to tighten the front wheel nuts!

About 2km down the road the inevitable happened. While jumping a gutter the front wheel detached from the forks and I crashed hard onto the pavement.

I don’t really know how long I just stood there bleeding and wondering what to do next. Suddenly a white utility stopped and a one-armed man emerged. Without even asking he placed my bike into the back and ushered me to the passenger seat. He asked me where I wanted to be taken. In my confused state I asked him to return me to my workplace, which he did. He unloaded my bike and locked it up for me in one of the bike lockers. Then he drove off without a word.

I was still feeling very lost and confused. Carrie, a co-worker returning from lunch, discovered me and took me off to the hospital. It turned out I had broken a bone in my left hand and a minor concussion.

A few days later I was able to thank Carrie in person. I never saw that one-armed man again, but I’m following his example: I now carry a full repair kit and try to go out of my way to assist other cyclists, and even motorists, who are in trouble. It’s not always convenient, or pleasant, to stop and help people. But it’s my way giving a little back and showing a similar kind of compassion that was shown to me.

It took almost three years for the groove marks in the pavement to fade away. Whenever I walked past that spot they’d remind me of that day and the people who helped me. Especially that mysterious one-armed man….

Originally published as HeroicStories #49 on Aug 24, 199
Available in The Best of HeroicStories, Volume 1.

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