THE WEIGHTLIFTER, THE DRUNK, AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN
By: Lauren Anderson
I seem to be walking into a lot of parables lately.
Or perhaps the situations I’m finding myself in are more like the beginning of a lame joke your “hilarious” co-worker might attempt at a mandatory happy hour.
Let me explain…
Saturday was a big day for me. To put it more accurately, Saturday was the culmination of a whole bunch of big days that went back to back to back, resulting in Opening Night of the new show at the Brave New Workshop where I perform, and the wedding of two dear friends.
I’ve had a crazy past two weeks that had me working 12 hour days, and keeping me away from the gym. Not ideal surely, but sometimes that’s just how life goes. People get busy right?
Long story long, I knew if I could make it through Saturday– I’d be gold. And I did! I’m happy to report everything went off without a hitch. We had a great opening night show that makes me feel really proud, and I made it to my friend’s wedding! I arrived with just enough time to dance a few songs, chat with people I haven’t seen in too long, and toss back a much deserved Jameson on the rocks.
But by 1:00 AM I was tuckered, and I said my goodbyes. Which is actually kinda funny for people that know me, cause usually that time of night is still on the early side. (Did I mention I likes-ta stay up late?) Just goes to show how sleepy I really was.
I left with my novelty tote bag, grateful for a wonderful day, and happy and content that tomorrow I could sleep in. I officially had nothing on my schedule. Hot damn I love the promise of a day like that once in awhile.
But when I parked my car at my apartment, I could hear my stomach grumble. I was hungry, and only a roast beef sandwich would do. So instead of walking up the stairs to my bed, I walked across the street to my local sandwich shop and got some late-night grub.
I live right in the heart of uptown, and it was bustling. Especially for a Saturday. There’s nothing like a summer night in the city, and it was in full force. The sandwich joint is right in between two pretty popular bars, so the sidewalk was jumping. People shouting and laughing. Everyone trying to snag a responsible ride, or an irresponsible hook-up… you name it.
I walk out of the sandwich shop with my hot roast beef foiled up and ready to go, and I’m about to cross the street back to my apartment, when an Uber pulls up. A big guy, about 6’2”, darts past me. He’s running out of the bar, waving his hands, yelling at the car, “That’s me! That’s for me!”
Only instead of making it to his ride, he makes a wrong step on the curb, and falls flat on his back. He’s half in the street, and not really moving. It happened so fast, that if I watched it in a movie, it would’ve been a Kevin James worthy pratfall. The comedian in me appreciated the full force, and excellent timing of what I just saw. But the fire chief’s daughter in me knew better than to laugh.
This is real life, and that guy’s gonna get hurt if someone doesn’t help him.
I shove my sandwich into my purse, and I make a beeline to the curb.
I’m surprised more people aren’t helping. The driver in the Uber is just dicking around on his phone, oblivious. Maybe they didn’t see him fall? But c’mon! When a big, yelly guy biffs it in the street, you’d think people would notice right? Maybe I’m the only sober person on this sidewalk? No matter. Back to the task at hand.
I run up. I say, “Are you okay? Can you hear me? Can you move?”
Luckily he wasn’t unconscious, and he started mumbling at me, but he really doesn’t make any attempt to get himself out of the street. I continue.
“Okay, you’re in the street, and it’s not safe, so let’s get you up okay? I’m going to take your arm.”
More mumbling. I think he understands… but again. He’s not giving me any words.
I should also mention that I’m wearing a dress with my very heavy backpack on, and I also have a purse with a hot roast beef sandwich sticking out, and I’m about to attempt to single-handedly pull this large man out of the street.
I just want to stop right here and assess my choices. I come from a long line of people in my family who are good in crisis. But I would never classify myself as one of them. Let’s put it this way, I’m not the cool-headed person that’s gonna reset your shoulder after it’s been knocked out of socket. But I am the person that will make you laugh while it’s happening to distract you from the pain.
I know my role, and I accept it. I’m morale. Always have been, always will be. It took awhile to get comfortable with that being enough, but someone has to sing in the trenches, so to speak. Someone has to keep the spirits up, and remind the troops about what we’re fighting for. And if the universe has pushed me in any direction… it’s that way. C’est la vie eh?
So on Saturday, I don’t know what I was thinking. But it didn’t even register. I was just like, “This guy needs help!” And I was off. Channeling my Dad the Fire Chief, or my Auntie who was a Flight Nurse on a helicopter. (See? I’m not kidding! We got first responders in the house!)
I do know that never at any point in this exchange did I think, “No way, I can’t help him.” And I think that’s because I lift weights now. I know it. The old Lauren would not have tried this. The old Lauren might’ve even been afraid.
There is a strange confidence that occurs when you realize “Hey, I’m strong.” It’s weird. But I’d have to say, pretty great too. I’m still always aware that this guy or that could be dangerous, but I am also more aware that I can fight back. I am more aware of what my body is and is not capable of, and that is a marvelous and incredibly freeing feeling. It’s autonomy. It’s agency. It’s POWER.
I take the drunk guy’s arm, and as if on cue, another guy sees this, stops and takes up the other side. Enter the Good Samaritan. He was like, “What happened? Can I help?”
I looked over, thankful. “Sure.” I give him a quick run down of the guy’s fall and then I said, “You take that arm, and we’ll backsquat him to his feet and shuffle him into the Uber.”
The Good Samaritan was like, “Backsquat?”
And I laughed. “Yup. Use your glutes!” The Good Samaritan made some joke about being thankful for not skipping leg day, and on three we hoisted the guy quite easily, and got him into his Uber.
The driver never even looked up from his phone…
We shut the door to some mumbled “Thank you” from the drunk, and me and the Good Samaritan high-fived without saying another word. He went back to join his boyfriend, and I crossed the street to my place. If I hurried, my sandwich might still be warm.
I’ve talked about having a strong body (especially for female-identifying people) can be an act of resistance many times before. But now more than ever I am finding comfort in it.
On this night, my strong body also helped me comfort and care for my fellow man, something that the country and the world could use a lot more of, IMHO. And maybe if I never lifted weights, I wouldn’t have had the courage to attempt to help. And it certainly wouldn’t have been that easy.
Not only is my new strength a form of resistance, but also a conduit for assistance.
And I can’t help but think– Hell yes. I can be one of the helpers. Mr. Rogers would be so proud.