“What’s happening?” The Pick ‘N Save checker wasn’t asking me; she was asking the air as she watched a frantic woman gesticulating on the other side of plate glass.
Everyone in the check-out area migrated towards the front. The woman in the window was trying to get help for someone.
“...on the way...”
I checked out, grabbed my bags, left, and walked over to see if I could help in any way. A kneeling woman bent forward as blood flowed profusely from her nose onto the snow between the visible portion of sidewalk and her parked car. A Pick ‘N Save employee handed her paper towel.
I identified with her much more than I wanted to. That could easily be me. Winter’s worst curse for senior citizens is ice. But it wasn’t icy, and she wasn’t a senior. How did she injure only her nose? She must have fallen flat on her face, or hit it on something, must have fallen so fast that her hands didn’t involuntarily pop up to protect her.
The ambulance arrived. “Someone told me to lean my head back,” she said. “No, you don’t want to do that,” replied the medical technician, and I wanted to hang around and hear what other advice he offered. But I couldn’t, for he asked for her medical history, which I did not want to overhear. I started to walk away. Then I noticed something lying on the sidewalk: glasses, probably hers. I handed them to the EMT: maybe I was a help after all. I left, shaken, afraid of ice though I didn’t see any.
Two days later as I walked past the spot where the stranger had fallen, I glanced at it to see if they had managed to get rid of all that blood. Yes, they had, not a drop left, just a big indentation in the snow where the blood had been.
The area had been covered with snow when she fell. But what I saw underneath when the snow was cleared made me gasp.
It was the corner of one of those omnipresent concrete frames, and the path from the street lead right into it. I don't know for sure if that's what she fell on. I do know that all the frames along Oakland were covered when the woman was bent over and bleeding, that every driver or passenger stepping out of a car and into snow on Oakland is at risk. In fact one of the friends I mentioned this to said she almost fell. So these frames are not aesthetically pleasing (euphemism!), they make wide sidewalks narrow, prevent car doors from opening, and are dangerous. Perhaps they should be removed?