Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I often pass several mentally disabled adults on my way to work. Most seem happy enough in their routines, clutching their lunchboxes and carefully crossing the streets as they head to the work center. One woman in particular catches my attention on more than one occasion. She makes her way slowly, almost painfully, down the street in front of the police station, her eyes unable to focus properly, her steps sometimes slowing to a halt. I wonder if she is medicated. Who cares for her?

One day last week as I drove by, I saw her stop then slowly crumple to the ground. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled over into a used car lot and ran back to where she sat on the ground. At the same time, another woman stopped and offered to run to the police station for help, then came back and helped me support the woman who can't seem to decide if she wants to sit or recline. I was certain our friend must be going into diabetic shock, from the way she stares blankly. She gently squeezed my hand in response to my questions and assurances that help is on the way. At least five minutes pass before we see a uniformed officer, ambling leisurely up the road towards the three of us. We're frustrated at his lack of concern and then I notice the woman's eyes as they met the officer's, and her hand waved at him ever so slightly.

"Hi, Charlene," the officer greeted her. "Where's your I.D.? Are you going to work today?"

"You know her? Has this happened before?"

"At least once a week," comes the amused reply.

In a matter of minutes, I was on my way to work again, not quite knowing what to think! But here's a few observations:

  1. Charlene. Her name is Charlene. Everyone has a name and everyone has a story. I can pray for her by name now.
  2. Who knows why Charlene has these spells? Perhaps she just needs a bit of love and attention, any way she can get it.
  3. If I see it happen again, should I stop? What if it's not just a spell some day?
  4. What if it had been something serious and we had not been right in front of a police station? Would I have known what to do? Sheesh, now that I think of it, I didn't even have my cell phone with me as I ran back there.
  5. What would you have done?

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