Strangers to the Rescue

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I was up late reading Facebook posts about ISIS, crime, and the buffoons running for president. The next morning, I stepped over a mound left in front of my house by a dog's irresponsible owner. And I passed a hipster Airbnb'er, which made me worry that my neighborhood's becoming a Holiday Inn.

Just then, I heard a man call out in pain. His finger had been caught in his truck's tail lift and was now wedged in its hinges, pointing up to the sky - but severed from his bloody hand. I ran to him and called 911. My call was put on hold. A contractor - working on the house next door - appeared with a First-Aid kit. A neighbor asked from his window if we needed help. "Ice and some plastic bags!" an African-American woman, who'd pulled her car over, called out. A middle-aged Latina arrived and told us to sit the man up so he wouldn't lose consciousness. As the Airbnb'er and contractor held him steady, blood dripped onto their coats. They noticed, but didn't budge. The neighbor appeared with towels and a blanket.

911 finally answered and, 13 minutes later, the paramedics arrived. They said my call had been dispatched incorrectly as a non-emergency.

There are a lot of things wrong in this city and the world can be a scary place. But that day, six strangers worked together like well-rehearsed actors on the stage of life, our roles assigned by the immediacy of need. We didn't ask each other's names. We didn't know who's Muslim or Jewish or whether we supported Trump or Clinton. We were male and female, young and old, white and black. When it was over, we said awkward good-byes and dispersed like dancers in a Flash Mob. But our willingness to help a stranger gave me a glimpse into what the world could be if we spent less time fearing each other and complaining on Facebook.

With a Perspective, I'm Debbie Findling.


Debbie Findling produces a weekly e-newsletter exploring ancient and trending Jewish issues.