Laura Saker and her sister Lois Saker were coming back from a doctor’s appointment in the Surrey neighbourhood of Whalley, near the hospital, when they saw a young man lying on a stone-cold sidewalk, curled up in a fetal position.
This was near the corner of 137th Street and 96th Avenue, on a chilly Monday, Jan. 25, at about 2:15 p.m. Laura took him to be maybe 20 years old, perhaps younger.
He was wearing a hospital mask.
First, let’s look to the sisters’ example of how to do it right, seeing as so many of us, even in the year 2021, still require schooling on how to be a decent human being. Heck, Christ saw fit to provide instruction in this regard some 2,000 years ago, in his parable of the Good Samaritan (The Bible, Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10:25-37).
Laura checked to make sure this young man was breathing while Lois called police. Both waited for help to arrive, which it did roughly three or four minutes later.
Once at home, the sisters received a follow-up call from the police officer to say the fellow refused treatment. That, of course, was this young man’s prerogative and is entirely on him. It certainly doesn’t diminish what the sisters did for him, which was simply to give a damn.
So that was the good. And now for the bad, and the ugly. Seems selfishness, indifference and self-absorption are hard habits to break.
The point of this column is not what the sisters then did, which was the right and proper thing to do. It’s rather an exposé of all the other passers-by who disengaged their hearts and minds, who didn’t bother to help, who looked on as though this fellow in distress might as well have been a sack of trash.
Laura figures somewhere between “10 or 15” people passed by this guy, as he lay curled up in a fetal position on a busy city sidewalk, and did nothing. Nada.
Was he suffering from a drug overdose? Diabetic ketoacidosis?
Did he get hit by a truck, or was maybe struck by lightning?
“It’s just disgusting, the people who walked by,” she says. “There were so many cars going by, so many cars turning at that corner, so many pedestrians walking by, just turning and looking at him. I mean, what is wrong with people?”
Such callous behaviour is indeed a mystery for the ages.
“I don’t know how long this poor kid had been laying there,” Laura adds. “These people walking by, if that was your kid, what would you think? It was just sad, it was very distressing.”
You get no impression whatsoever from the Saker sisters that they think their act of humanity towards this stranger in distress was in any way chivalrous, heroic or otherwise worthy of praise.
They simply did what they knew needed to be done, because it was the right thing to do.
“You don’t have to touch these people,” Laura notes. “But you’ve got a telephone – use it. Call somebody.”
Thank God there are people like these two Good Samaritan sisters in this world. As for the rest, I suppose there is some comfort to be had in knowing that it’s not necessarily once a jerk, always a jerk.
There’s always room for redemption – all you have to do is open your eyes, and care if even just a little bit.
Laura put it best: “People need to stop and think, really.”
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