I was out on my normal constitutional when I received a phone call that required me to return home. It wasn’t urgent or negative, just something I had with me that was required there and then. It was a time sensitive need.
So I agreed that I would ‘power walk’ home – to arrive with the least delay. I often walk ‘quickly’ and this was just an impressive way to say that I wouldn’t dawdle, but I would walk with purpose and as quickly as a man of age and state can manage.
Normally, I try and walk a minimum of 10,000 paces a day – that is roughly 7 kilometres or approximately 4 ½ miles. Currently I’m at 75 contiguous days of hitting the target and basically, I have been hitting the target for the bulk of a year or so…the odd few days here and there where I have missed it.
So I set off at a quick but not murderous pace.
There weren’t many people about, so I basically had the footpath to myself. Hence, I applied myself to increasing my pace to my quickest rate.
Powering down the boardwalk, ahead of me, I saw a family, some ladies and children coming up the footpath and filling it from side to side. In order not to inconvenience them, nor slacken my pace, I opted to pass to my left, off the footpath where I would bypass them by utilising the verge. The verge consists of some grass, some bedding areas with no plantings and some trees and the odd light standard. It is rather narrow, separating the boardwalk from the roadway.
Many times previously, in like situations , I had performed this manoeuvre and so I was expecting to power on by and loosing little momentum on my journey home.
Except things didn’t go exactly to plan.
Now I do not know the precise sequence of events, but at some point I must have tripped, or lost my footing, or made some other elemental, basic error.
The first that I knew that something was amiss was only as I was somewhat airborne and going down with no hope of stopping it.
Out flew my hands to protect me as I plummeted. There didn’t seem to be anything else that I could do.
Oh, and I was tumbling off, or was it over, the verge and into the roadway.
Now, generally speaking, this is an extremely busy little road and drivers, when an opportunity presents itself, will power down the roadway with seemingly reckless abandon.
It was, in fact, on this very road, just two years prior I was witness to a young girl being bowled over by an inattentive motorcyclist. The girl was wholly up-ended and the motorcyclist and his travelling companion were left skidding down the road independent of their motorcycle which was also skidding down the road.
Now, here I was, flying into the same roadway. Mind you, it was without the aid of a motorcycle, but it still was not the most desirable of destinations to be heading towards.
As with all these things, it happened incredibly quickly, literally, in the twinkling of an eye.
When I hit, my left side took the brunt of the fall and my outstretched hands absorbed some of the violence of the impact. I was aware that my head did not come in contact with the road surface. My 65 kilos had come pell-mell from an upright, forward moving state to a prone and utterly stopped state in under a second or two at the most.
Things have happened rather unexpectedly and rather abruptly.
I’m lying there, gathering my thoughts, doing a quick check to see what is speaking the loudest to me, my left leg, hands, elbow, wrist… the list seems to be growing…I was generally occupied in taking stock.
I perceived that nothing was broken.
Oh, and I noted that there was no traffic this day – the road is strangely lacking its normal frenetic masses of traffic. Strange for a Saturday, or, better put, thankfully strange for a Saturday.
Hence, I haven’t been run over.
At the time, I would have preferred to lie there on the floor for a bit, just to collect myself.
But, virtually instantly, people have rushed to my aid. There is a lady in her twenties, a young lad of about ten or twelve – asking if I was alright. There was a middle aged council employee asking the same thing. Others were there, but my mind was somewhat preoccupied and my vision rather narrow. Many hands were outstretched to aid me to my feet.
I couldn’t say no to the assistance. I may have wished to lie there a bit longer and gather myself, but aid to pull me up, well that was not to be neglected. I appreciated the hands pulling me up. It would have been a slower and I dare say, a more painful experience, if I had attempted it on my own.
I thanked my helpers – there was a small crowd around me now.
Of course I was rather embarrassed. There was no real reason for my tumble. I was simply rushing. I was walking too fast and not being careful enough. No excuses.
Nevertheless, there was no end of people asking after me, offering assistance and ensuring I was okay.
I returned to the footpath and turned my steps, once again, towards home. I still needed to get there and I still needed to be there sooner rather than later – the basic equation on why I was heading home had not changed. It was a time sensitive situation.
My left leg was speaking to me in several places, both my palms were distressed, my right elbow was smarting, and my left wrist had things to say, but everything was functioning, and so I headed off, but at a rather diminished rate.
I still arrived home in good time – naturally, no record had been set. I surrendered the item that was in my possession and made my way into our home. My left wrist is reluctant to give me support, my left leg, is battered, banged and skinned in multiple places, but I am on the mend. No serious damage has been done.
But I think it is important to note that with all the violence that is happening in our world, with people demonising a whole society, culture and religion – I would like to point out that young and old, male and female, workmen and housewives all stopped what they were doing, they ceased going about on their own business and offered me, a complete and utter stranger aid and comfort without pause or hesitation. I know if I had needed water, it would have been procured. If I had needed other aid, it would have been provided.
Rarely in life are things black and white. Rarely are generalisations accurate for the individual. Rarely are caricatures even remotely helpful. Rarely can we extrapolate from the few and apply to the many and have anything remotely resembling reality or something that is in some way helpful – except maybe in reinforcing preconceived prejudices and biases.
All who were in the vicinity of my tumble, Sunni or Alevi, Turk or Syrian, (Muslims all) came to my aid, expressing concern and care and willing to do whatever was necessary for me in my time of need. All for a complete stranger.