DEAR READERS: Yesterday, I printed some of the reactions I received to a letter I got about a disabled person whose wheelchair overturned, and who was left lying on the sidewalk by passers-by who failed to offer assistance. Today's responses are examples of how little it takes to help someone in distress, and how each of us is capable of assisting someone in need. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My aunt was driving her power scooter up the new access ramp at the local library when it suddenly flipped and landed on top of her, pinning her down like a beetle on its back. When she looked up, she found herself staring into the face of a smiling young man whose first words were, "What's wrong with this picture?" It turned out he was the engineer who had built all the walkways.
On her next visit to the library, true to his word, the problem with the ramp had been corrected. If that gentleman happens to read this, I just want to say "thank you." You made her day. -- GRATEFUL NIECE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ABBY: Last fall, I fractured my ankle badly and was in a wheelchair for almost two months. I call it my character-building experience. I never realized how hard it is for the disabled to get things done. However, my experience with people was the complete opposite of "Horrified's."
People would dash in front of me to open doors. I can't count the number of times I heard, "Do you need my help?" from complete strangers. I always believed there were wonderful people in the world, and my experience confirmed it. -- GLAD I LIVE IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR ABBY: I have witnessed the opposite of what happened in Dover, Del. As I sat in an airport waiting for my flight to leave, I heard a loud crash and turned to see someone fall down the steps of an escalator. I started toward her, but saw at least five people closer than I was rushing to her. Every single person in the immediate vicinity responded instantly with compassion. -- SACRAMENTO FLIER
DEAR ABBY: "Horrified's" letter reminded me of a quote that I came across years ago. It changed my way of thinking about life and has made me a braver person. It goes something like this: "I wondered why 'somebody' didn't do something. Then I realized, I was somebody."
Sometimes people are self-conscious about taking public action. They assume it will be taken care of by someone who is more experienced or assertive. Perhaps people need to be reminded that we are all "somebodies" with the power to help and make a difference, however small that action might seem. -- CAROL IN POTSDAM, N.Y.
DEAR ABBY: I was at a traffic light and noticed a man near the side of my van had tipped over in his wheelchair. He had no legs and was stuck between the fence, the ground and the bus stop bench.
I told my 4-year-old daughter not to move, put on my hazard blinkers and went to offer assistance. I picked up his wheelchair and was struggling to pick him up, and still nobody helped. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a truck whipped into the nearby parking lot and the driver picked the man up in one swoop, put him in his chair and left in seconds!
I have a bulging disc in my back, but still I was determined to help the man in the wheelchair. I am still amazed at the kindness of the person who came to the rescue of both me and the man who had the accident. -- CINDY, OUT WEST