My colleague Mike and I were working for a couple of weeks in Kingston, Jamaica and needed to do a site visit. Gregory from the office took us in the car but needed to stop en route to deposit some cash at the bank . It was a rough part of town so he parked up and made us promise to stay in the small car with the doors locked and the windows closed. We agreed, despite the beautiful Caribbean sunshine.
He was gone for ages and we watched the hectic world around us with interest.
‘What’s up with that guy?’ I asked Mike pointing out a roughly dressed guy stumbling badly along the sidewalk towards us. As we looked more closely we saw a fresh wound – a diamond shaped hole in his forehead. Nobody seemed to be taking any notice. After a few seconds silence we reached a mutual decision and got out of the car.
Once the guy was sitting on a nearby wall we had a chance to assess better. The wound was bleeding and unclean, it definitely needed attention. The man was not very coherent, probably living on the street and said the hole in his forehead had been caused by a hammer. By chance we saw a police station across the way so leaving our new acquaintance with another passer by who we had persuaded to stop, we went to ask for help.
The police were devastatingly uninterested. ‘He’s probably drunk’ they declared dismissively and wouldn’t be persuaded to do anything.
By this time Gregory had emerged from the bank and after his initial alarm at finding us not only out of the car but involved with an injured homeless person and fresh from an argument with the police, we persuaded him to help. I can’t remember how the next decision was reached but the upshot was they got Hammerhead lying in the back of the car, Mike in the passenger seat and drove off to the nearest hospital, reminding me not to get into any more trouble.
The hospital were luckily more sympathetic than the police and fixed the guy up. I survived my loitering and they picked me up an hour or two later.
So what? Well I was interested in how few people were prepared to help a fellow human being in trouble. And then how most people did help once we stepped up and showed some leadership. We don’t have to solve problems on our own, but sometimes we have to be the person who realises there is a problem, shines a light on it and inspires or persuades others to play their part. I’m glad I could help that day, that was Hammerhead’s gift to me.