The young lady, possibly 25 years old, sitting 2 tables across from me in the restaurant was alone as was I. Her phone was of course keeping her good company. She paid a lot of attention to it. Every few minutes she called a number and held the phone up to her ear. She got no response. Or may be she got the answer phone message. This happened again and again and again. Each time her face fell further and further to the floor. The light in her eyes diminished a little each time and she went pale and then paler still.
I watched her as discreetly as possible, wondering if she was ok. I wondered if she had called the same number each time or a different one. I wondered if someone was unwell or there was a wobble in a relationship or she wanted to make an appointment with her doctor or …… the possibilities were many.
After half an hour of this process repeating itself she got up to leave. There was no bounce in her step. It looked like she had dragged herself out. Her head hung by her neck. She was visibly upset. I was so tempted to reach out to her and ask her if she was alright and if I could do anything to help. I wanted to offer to stay with her and listen if she wanted to talk about anything. I would listen – no judgements, no advice. Just listen. But I didn’t do that. Or shall I say couldn’t do that? Living in big cities often doesn’t allow for offers like that. That kind of behaviour is far, far away from the norm. In fact, just making proper eye contact with a stranger is tricky. What I was thinking of doing would have probably scared her and she might have thought of me as a ‘freak’.
How come we live in a world where reaching out to someone in distress is not normal? Even if we don’t know each other, we know the human condition, the ebb and flow of life, the value of connectedness between beings. The next time this happens, will I do anything different? What is the worst that can happen? They might not accept my help, which will feel like rejection.
If I can be ok with that then I can do it.