In the last 3 months, since breaking my leg, I have been very very lucky and have received a lot of sympathy, good wishes, amazing gestures and offers to help, as well as a lot of practical help from my extended family and those near me.
I needed the help – there were days, at the beginning, I couldn’t do anything for myself.
But, I’ve also received some (rare) less sympathetic comments.
Today I had one of those.
I haven’t set foot (or crutch) in a shop to do my weekly grocery shopping since my fall, so I have my shopping home-delivered on a weekly basis, if not twice. Some drivers see me opening the door on crutches and struggling with taking things out of the baskets and just help me out, no questions asked.
But often they ask me what happened to me.
“I fell l down the stairs carrying an empty suitcase while I was unpacking. Here, at home”.
They make a little comment, small talk perhaps, wish me well, and carry on with their day.
The best one I’ve had so far was: “At least you’re still smiling”, and that did make me smile. A lot.
I have no sympathy
But today I got another kind of comment. One that surprised me a little.
“Ah, I have no sympathy for those kinds of injuries!”
Me, already getting a bit defensive: “What, for people falling down the stairs?”
“Nah. For people trying to be clever!”
“Trying to be clever? I wasn’t trying to be clever. I was unpacking!”
“Yes, but you see, the way to do it is to push the suitcase from the top and let it slide down the stairs. It’s made for it – it’s got wheels!”
“Ehm… If I put it on the steps at the top and push it, it’ll just pick up speed, tumble down, and end up broken at the bottom”.
“Nah, they’re made for it! Look at how they bash them at the airport!”
Now, I’m a very logical thinker, and there’s nothing I like more than an argument that makes sense and a suggestion that I hadn’t thought about.
Granted that hindsight is always a great think, but… really? You expect a suitcase to slide smoothly down the stairs? With the wheels??
Perhaps I’m missing a trick.
“You see”, he continues, “My dad tried to be clever once. We left the pub, it had snowed, and me and my brother were walking on the snow. My dad – he was 69 then – decided to take the icy path and fell. He broke his arm. I just laughed!”
But seriously, I was not trying to be clever. Efficient, maybe. Productive, maybe. Helpful, maybe.
But not clever.
And anyway, I just slipped. I guess I made a mistake, if you can call it that? I wasn’t trying to be anything. It was an accident.
I never for a second chose for this to happen. I wasn’t trying to be clever, and if I could take it back, I would in a heartbeat. Again, in hindsight, I would have left that suitcase well alone where it was.
It’s just one of those things. It happened.
I do deserve ‘some’ sympathy
But you know what? It hurts that you come into my house, even if it’s just for less than 10 minutes, judge me without even knowing anything about me or my family and blatantly tell me you have no sympathy for me.
Now, I promise I don’t need every single human on this planet to come and offer me sympathy.
But it doesn’t cost much to say a nice word to someone. Or say nothing at all, if you have nothing nice to say?
Are you implying that people who fall victim of ‘silly injuries’ (you know, the ones where they were trying to be clever) don’t deserve any sympathy?
This isn’t the first time I hear something like this about ‘silly injuries’ (although maybe not directed at me), but who gets our sympathy exactly?
Does the one who hurt themselves skiing or sky diving deserve it? Because it’s a high impact sport, and they were doing something sporty, brave and ‘cool’? Or are they to blame because they chose to take a risk? Were they being too clever maybe?
Does the one who crosses the road and is hit by a cyclist?
Does the one whose car is hit by a lorry when stopping at the traffic lights?
Who gets your sympathy? Who is deserving of it, exactly?
I just don’t get it – an injury is an injury, and this one happens to be quite a serious one too, for the fall that I had. We are only grateful that it can be fixed and that it is temporary, but the impact on my family has been considerable, for a number of months.
So let’s agree to disagree
On reflection, Mr Delivery Man, it’s YOUR sympathy to dish out, so you can give it to whoever you like.
I’m hurt, for now. And for now I do deserve a little bit of sympathy. When I’m better we can all laugh about it if you want. Just not yet.
And yes, there are MUCH bigger things in the world that my broken leg. There are people who are suffering A LOT more, and going through A LOT more.
And I think whoever is hurt, ill, upset, injured or suffering, especially if they’re in that situation through not choice of theirs, does deserve some sympathy. Just a couple of words will do. I’ve reflected about kindness and compassion before, and I stand by my words.
You obviously think that some people don’t deserve sympathy, and that’s your view.
So let’s just agree to disagree.
I’m sorry to hear that your dad broke his arm. That can’t have been nice, and I feel for him.