I was nervous, sweating, and in my brand new suit. The woman walking right next to me, about two feet away, was run over by a cab that jumped onto the sidewalk. That could easily have been me.
I wrote about this in the first paragraph of an article the other day. The article was about first days of work. How hard they are. What to do.
She was thrown about ten feet into the air, landing on 42nd Street, and the cab sped off. A symphony of horns and burnt rubber and screams.
There was blood everywhere on the sidewalk and street. I was looking at her while the cab raced away in the blur and shock.
I used a payphone to call 911. But even by the time I was finished dialing, sirens and the ambulance was on the way and police were on the scene. Hundreds of people were surrounding the woman.
The woman was already dead. I’m no expert, but it seemed like the woman had died instantly. The blood was everywhere because her body had been torn in half.
I then went to work.
Hundreds of people wrote negative comments about me because of this incident.
Thousands of people liked the article and many even wrote me personal notes about the article. I’m grateful for that.
Normally I avoid comments, but there was one interesting thing I thought about these particularly negative comments.
First, everyone had their different versions of me they presented in the comments:
A) Some people thought I should’ve stayed with the dying woman and comforted her. “What kind of psychopath would leave a dying woman?”
I clearly wrote in the article she was dead. So they never finished the first paragraph or so.
Also, there were hundreds of people there (42nd Street in NYC).
My assumption was that the fewer useless people paying attention to a blood and gore scene, the easier it would be to either help the woman, her family, or find a reliable witness.
Plus I was shaking pretty bad and probably in some form of mental shock.
B) Some people thought I should’ve gotten the license plate number of the cab.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an accident in action (I’ve only seen two that didn’t involve me).
But in neither case was I smart enough, quick enough, or had good enough vision to get a license plate number. It’s really hard and in NYC where cars speed away and corners are only feet away from letting you disappear it’s probably impossible.
Plus, I had three choices: look at the license, see if the woman needed help, or call 911.
I didn’t want to be one of those people who would assume others would call 911 so I called 911. That was my choice.
In another article I will write about how I pretend to be a doctor and save lives but this situation was probably not the right one.
C) Some people thought I valued work more than life and that this was a shame and a statement on where humanity was heading.
It was my first or second day of work (I forget which) and I really wanted to do a good job. I had just moved to NYC for what I thought was my dream job. This was it.
The woman was dead and all the resources were on hand to help her.
Additionally, I was pretty shook up. If I had been standing where she was standing then I would be dead and she would be alive. This scenario was entirely possible.
Good or bad, I went to work.
D) Some people simply called me a “dush.”
Not sure what even means. I assume they meant “douchebag.” For some reason, female hygiene is an insult, particularly if it’s misspelled. I suppose those people will no longer read my articles.
E) Some people were very upset because they had no idea why the first paragraph about the woman’s death was included in the article.
Everyone is a literary critic.
So they refused to read further. Which is TOTALLY their right. But instead of reading further I guess they jumped right into the comments section because their thoughts were very important.
Why did I include the woman’s death in the first paragraph?
- Yes, the shock value. Big deal.
- It actually happened so I wasn’t exaggerating.
- The article was titled “What to do if you were hired today” and since this happened on my first or second day it sets the tone for my own personal experiences on the job. This was clear in the article.
F) Some people, as was their right, thought my advice later was horrible.
That’s fine. It’s the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 rule where 1/3 will like what you write, 1/3 won’t care, 1/3 will hate you. I never argue with people who think what I have to say makes no sense.
I admit: Most of what I say makes no sense.
That said, I was pretty clear that this was simply what worked for me. I never give advice. I only say what works for me.
Anyone who gives actual advice is a fraud. We’re all just trying to understand the planet from our own tiny perspectives.
Since I’ve provided much material about what has happened to me since then, anyone can decide if I am worth reading or not.
I’m happy with whatever their decisions are.
What was most fascinating to me was the baggage everyone brought into the comments.
They each had their own internal story they had built up of the author (me) since known of them knew me.
I could tell who hadn’t read the article by simply reading the comments.
My challenge in life is to never judge people. It’s so easy to do so. Someone does something and then we think that’s “good” or “bad”.
But good or bad is so subjective. I view my opinion as meaningless. Yes, I admit that love and compassion should be the ruling filters on judgment but even that is just my bias and means nothing.
But just like we never truly see our world – only our eye’s perception of it and then our brain’s 1000s of filters on what’s important to notice and what’s unimportant, AND THEN the further emotional filters we apply to everything we see – WE NEVER TRULY SEE ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.
All we see is the story we create inside of ourselves about that person.
A story that is clothed with a million pieces of context that we have sewn out of the fabric of our memories.
If Claudia turns away from me, for instance, it might bring back thousands of memories I didn’t know I had, or don’t even acknowledge, and then I form a wrong opinion of what is happening. (that girl in 5th grade turned away from me and abandoned me so…).
Better to just have no opinions. Better to choose to be happy. Better to practice understanding which thoughts are useful and which are not useful.
Let the dead bury the dead. Stop using the past to watercolor the present.
Better to treat everyone you meet as if they might be run over by a cab any minute, with no time left to say goodbye to them.
UNDERSTANDING is impossible. And takes too much energy.
I try to MISUNDERSTAND as little as possible.
Then what happens? Don’t you need to judge and label to survive in the jungle?
You know what? I have no clue. But with a lifetime of hell already behind us, you and I have managed to survive.
We’re in this together, you and I. Maybe that’s why I love you.