I'm not really an obsessive personality, but once in a while something will get to me. I think of these things as waking nightmares. When I lived in New Jersey and worked in upstate New York I constantly worried about being hit by a truck as I crossed the George Washington Bridge twice each day. After 9/11 when my Chicago friends asked me if I was worried about a terrorist attack I realized I was much more concerned about those trucks. Over the years I've had a number of these concerns, most of which never materialized.
When I lived in Chicago my concern was about the possibility of getting stuck in Cabrini-Green, one of those notorious housing projects unwisely built very close to the most desirable areas of the city. On New Years Day, 1985, I went to visit a friend, mistakenly sailed past the North Avenue exit of the highway, and foolishly got off at Division Street, putting me right in wrong place. I was driving a VW something; I don't remember the model, and it had an electrical problem that the dealer hadn't been able to find. Needless to say, as I got to the stop sign in the middle of the area, the car stalled. Two men came over and tried to help me–actually, one tried to help–I wasn't sure about the other. The car wouldn't start, they pushed it to the curb, I gave them whatever money I had (about $25) and left as quickly as possible. I also got rid of that car as quickly as possible.
My most recent waking nightmare is about falling: either on my face or breaking something important like a hip. Friday morning, after finishing my tutoring gig at the library, I decided I would take the bus to the Strip if it came before my usual bus. I got there, had a fish sandwich at Benkowitz, went to the Society for Contemporary Craft to see the current exhibit and continued walking to downtown Pittsburgh. It's not very far, about a mile and a half. I got to Penn Station and decided to take the bus on the East Busway, giving me about another half mile walk on the other end to get home.
The area had been newly fixed up. There was a park-like place in front of the building and the walkway leading to the bus stop was newly paved with red brick. I never saw that the pavement was uneven: my foot hit and I went flying, landing on my knees forehead and nose. My glasses cut into my forehead, my nose was broken and I've never seen so much blood except on television.
I laid there for a moment unable to move, decided I'd better do something or I'd be soaked in blood. A man passing by came over to help me. He was wonderful. I'm sure he must have had some EMT training. He helped me sit up then moved me to a shady spot. He picked up the book and jacket I was carrying and helped me take my bag off my shoulder; picked up my hearing aid, which came off when I took the bag off, and found the case for it in my purse; each time showing me and telling me exactly what he was doing. I realized how vulnerable I was and how very fortunate that he had stopped to help me. I wish I knew who he was. I'd like him to know how much I appreciate him.
Someone else called for help. The police showed up, my good samaritan left, the paramedics came. Everyone was great. The paramedics cleaned most of the blood off my arms: I looked like I had been bathing in it. They took me to the ER at Shadyside Hospital (my choice) where I was cleaned up, CT scanned, (fractured my nose), the cut was glued (not a good place for stitches) and Steve and Charna came and took me home. I look terrible–like one of those Kabuki masks you can see here, but I feel OK, even went out for dinner with the kids on Friday night. So, don't worry Carol.