I had a job interview at FIFE House a couple of years ago. I was going to be travelling to Sudbury after the interview, so I was not only dressed in a suit for my interview but also carrying a large luggage bag a backpack. I was waiting in the lobby (their offices are in an apartment building), because I was early, when I saw this elderly woman walking up the street. The wind was really strong that day, and I could see she was fighting hard against it. It pushed her to the left and caused her to trip face first over a bench and almost into a garden outside the building.
Witnessing this, I dropped all my baggage and went out the door to help her up and sit her on the bench. I asked her where she was going and she told me she was going to see her doctor. I asked where her doctor’s office was, and she told me. It was about 8 blocks, uphill, back in the direction where I had just walked from the subway station. I asked if she would like me to go with her and told her to wait while I grabbed my things from the lobby.
I stepped back in and grabbed my bags and she was already up and trying to move again. I hustled and caught up to her. I took hold of her arm, but I noticed she was walking in such a way that made it seem like her upper body was moving faster than her lower body. As she walked, with fast shuffling steps, her upper body kept slowly leaning further and further forward, as if she was trying to cross an imaginary finish line. Even though I was holding her arm with my left hand, multiple times I had to drop my luggage from my right shoulder and catch her before she fell again. I would stand with her a few seconds to centre her and try to get her to take her time.
People kept looking at me, which I read as wondering what was going on, or questioning what the relationship was between us. Here was a young guy, in a suit, carrying a lot of baggage, and routinely dropping it to catch this woman. Only one guy asked if I needed help, but at that point we were a block away from our destination so I said thanks but that we’d be fine.
She fell twice. Once, shortly before that man asked me if I needed help. The second time, she hit a curb right outside her doctor’s office. After this second time, I had her sit there temporarily. While we sat there together so she could compose herself, a woman came and offered her assistance too. We brought her up to her doctor’s office, but it was closed. I don’t know if it just wasn’t open yet, or if the woman even had an appointment at all. The woman who came to help went to another office and borrowed a chair for the older woman to sit down on and then she called her own doctor to say she would be late (and that if they couldn’t accommodate her she’d just reschedule).
I had told this woman what was going on, and why I was all dressed up and carrying so much stuff. She said she would stay with the elderly woman until her doctor`s office opened and gave her some money for cab fare after. She asked me what the job interview I had was for, and I told her “social work”. She laughed and said that seemed appropriate. She wished me luck and I left them to go to my interview.
During my interview with FIFE, one of the questions they asked me was “when was a time that you helped someone out without being obligated to?” Suffice to say, the 20-30 minutes I spent lugging my belongings, uphill, in a suit, while making sure an elderly woman made it to her destination safely seemed very appropriate and serendipitous.
I not only got the job, but they felt it was one of the best interviews they’d ever had.