Saturday, April 21, 2012

Running Late

I had something sort of happen to me a couple days ago, and it made me think.

I was running late. I had missed my train by about five seconds, but thought I could catch up at my transfer station anyway. However, when I hopped off and tried to make the run to the other platform to catch the train waiting there, the crowds of people prevented me from breaking into the sprint required, and I missed that train by about five seconds, too.

So I had to wait for the next train, again. I started to worry if I'd make it to work on time. To complicate matters, I'd rushed out of the house that morning and forgotten my cell phone. Plus, I'd forgotten my schedule for the day and my list of phone numbers for the new branch of my company that I'm working for. If I'm ever running late, I have to phone in. I was running late, but didn't have the phone number and didn't have my cell, so even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't phone.

Luckily, however, by the time I reached my arrival station and hopped onto the bus for stage four of the five stage journey I make to and from work...

(That journey being: 1. walk from home to station, 2. catch first train, 3. transfer to second train, 4. transfer to bus, 5. walk from bus stop to my school.)

...I thought maybe I would be able to squeak in by 8:10, which was when I was supposed to be to school by. Still, I was upset I'd forgotten my phone and schedule, and that people had been in my way, making me late--but of course it was all my own fault for not getting out of the house on time in the first place.

The bus arrived and I hopped off, walking briskly to the school along the sidewalk that borders both my junior high where I teach now and an elementary school, still a little annoyed, but grateful that I was going to make it. Then, something happened.

Ahead of me on the sidewalk, in fact, all around me, were both elementary and junior high students. Two elementary boys were walking along towards me, when one of them tripped as his foot slipped off the curb. He landed pretty hard, hitting his face against the pavement.

I immediately went to him, asking him if he was all right. He pushed himself up a bit, put his hand to his face, and it came away with blood on it. He wasn't crying. He just seemed sort of shocked and lied there on the sidewalk. The other kids around him had stopped walking, but none of them seemed to know what to do or say.

I asked again if he was ok, but he didn't reply. I looked around for other adults, but couldn't see any. My school was only a few dozen yards ahead, so I ordered the boy to wait there, and finally got my sprint. I rushed into the staff room, and the principal, vice-principal, and other teachers could tell right away that something was wrong.

It took a couple seconds to get my Japanese to work to tell them that a kid fell and is bleeding, but then--wow, want to know how to clear a staff room of teachers? Tell them a kid is hurt. A half dozen teachers, plus the principal and vice-principal went swarming out of the room, out the gate, and ran for the little cluster of kids around the hurt boy.

I followed, and saw them giving the boy some tissue--he'd bloodied his nose--and preparing to escort him to the elementary school. He wasn't hurt too badly, and it all turned out ok.

As for me? I forgot my annoyance at being late and leaving my stuff at home.

It made me think. If I hadn't been late, would there have been an adult on that sidewalk when the boy fell? Would he have had to pick himself up and walk himself to his school with his nose all bloody?

Things like running late or forgetting something important can cause problems for me. Sometimes they can even ruin my day. This time, however, my being late meant I was there when someone needed help. It didn't stop the boy from falling and getting hurt, but it meant someone was there to give him help.

The next day, walking along the sidewalk, I saw the boy with his friend again. He smiled at me.

Just because something inconvenient or problematic happens to me, and even though it might have negative consequences, it might also have positive consequences--maybe not for me, maybe for someone else, or maybe for both me and someone else. Regardless, maybe I needed to be late that day. Maybe there was a reason.

Maybe sometimes, the things we think of as "bad" have a little more to them. Maybe there's a reason. Maybe we need to stop thinking of them as such bad things. Maybe we just need to shrug and say, ok, well, this thing happened. Can't change it. Gotta live with it. And maybe there's a reason for it. Maybe sometimes we'll never even know the reason, but just in case, I want to think a bit broader, and maybe it will be good for my stress level, too.