To the Editor:

What a great urban neighborhood. Last Thursday afternoon, when the weather was warm and sunny, full with the sense of summer finally on its way, I was walking around the corner to a neighbor's house, when I suddenly stumbled and fell hard onto the concrete sidewalk. I screamed!

In less than two minutes I found myself surrounded by people asking what they could do to help. In the end I counted 10 people — men and women, young and not so young, various ethnicities, some students carrying backpacks, some who had been hurrying to appointments — all stopped to help. Still lying flat on the ground, I had to explain that I was sure I had broken my right wrist and maybe both wrists; I wasn't able to put any weight at all on my arms. I was trying to find a way to sit up, but was totally stymied. People offered suggestions, but I was afraid to try, afraid of further injury, and of pain too.

Remarkably, all nine people just sat down on the grass or stood under the tree, patiently giving me some space. That allowed me to get over the shock and think a bit. I asked a man standing near me to find my house and summon my husband. Someone else left to tell my neighbor I wouldn't make it. As I began to feel a bit better, the rest of us began chatting; it was a relaxed, friendly scene, and I told them what I felt, that I was sure that they each had interesting stories to tell and that I hoped I would have the chance to hear them someday.

I was happy to have met such a delightful group of people. It was amazing to be in a group of total strangers who instantly felt at ease with one another and with me.

A few minutes later my husband arrived with the car. I was still a bit afraid to stand up, but one woman quickly fashioned a sling from a towel and some hair

ties and with a strong man on one side and my husband on the other, I was finally able to get up and into the car, headed for the hospital. I left by inviting them all to drop by, to ring our doorbell anytime, or to come up when they see us on the porch. I sincerely hope they do that. And I thank them for being there for me and for being an important part of the caring community that is Hyde Park.

Melissa Shakman

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