Andrew Valdez
3 min readJun 12, 2023

On the way to visit my sister and nephews uptown, a man collapsed in front of my girlfriend and I. He was crossing the intersection at the corner of our block. Of course we went to help and upon reaching him, I noticed his hands got cut up from the asphalt. Aside from that, however, he looked nice, rocking a navy button up, hiding his gold chain. His shoes were fly, even with the new scuff marks. As good as he looked, his face said otherwise. His eyes darted all around, trying to hide his shame; as if his dignity took the brunt of the fall.

We struggled to get him up at first. It was as if his legs were dead underneath him. Fortunately, a kind bystander stepped in and helped me hoist him up off the ground. After ensuring the man was alright, the good Samaritan left us to catch his bus while we stayed another moment.

It was at this point the man who fell informed us that he didn’t have his cane. I asked if he brought it with him. He hadn’t the slightest idea. “Just get me on the train!”, he barked , attempting to mask his embarrassment amidst his temporary moment of weakness. For context, this situation occurred in Bedstuy where the trains are above ground. Given how this man was moving, there was no way he was climbing stairs. “Let us call a medic for you.”, we reasoned. “Nah fuck that! I’m not doing that shit!” If there was ever a quote that summed up the United States Healthcare system…

We advised him to use the railing along the apartment to get his legs back under him again, which he agreed to. Then we left.

With blood stained hands, we walked to the bodega on the next corner to get some hand sanitizer. Before entering, we turned around. The man was gone. As if that entire interaction was a figment of our imaginations. But still the blood remained.

It was at that moment a question rushed my mind. Did we just interact with God?

If you believe in God, you probably recognize that God interacts with us in a variety of ways. The gentle sound of waves washing against the shore also has the power to wash away our anxieties. A phone call with a friend in distress or a helping a random person on the subway who is experiencing the depths of isolation, when we help people, the feeling is euphoric. If you’re paying attention, you’ll find something divine in moments like these; even in the seemingly ordinary.

Whether you believe in direct encounters with God’s spirit, or through nature, or if you believe we are all a part of God and therefore gods ourselves; however you or I look at it is unimportant. What is important is someone was in need of help and myself, my girlfriend, and a helpful stranger answered the call.

But did we really?

Speaking only for me, I halted two other opportunities to help this man. He voiced that he lost his cane and I questioned if he had it in the first place. Then he asked for help on the train and I decided for him that wasn’t the best idea. And then he was gone.

Please don’t confuse what I’m processing now as self pity or a promise to do better. I can do nothing but accept how it all went down now. Instead, I’m using this small instance as evidence that we interact with God more often than we realize. Was this a “test”? Maybe. Or perhaps we did all we could for him? That could be true as well. What I am certain of, however, is I could have done more.

In life, there appears to be infinite opportunities to go the extra mile for someone who can neither repay you in time or reward. That is what I hope my little story get’s across. A reminder that there will always be another person who falls down.

What will I do then?