So you’re at the kitchen bench and acting like a 16 year old – though you know that was half a century ago. You plonk a heavy pot almost playfully and… misjudge. Its rim heads with relentless accuracy to the one part of your foot not covered by slippers.
You hop around so much that you really do look like a teenager. You apply ice. No joy. Three hours later you find yourself in A&E because your foot feels as if it’s about to explode. Eventually, because everything is eventually in A&E, a doctor arrives. He squeezes your foot at exactly the point where the pot landed and you nearly jump off the bed. He does it again. And again. Just to make sure.
Haematoma he declares. Fancy word for contusion. You’ve broken blood vessels under the skin and blah, blah. This being A& E, with really sick or genuinely damaged people waiting, you want to leave soon, because foot versus pot is nothing compared to say, bike versus road.
They are out there in the waiting room, the melting pot of Central Auckland. You try to walk and almost make it to the door – then suddenly the people who make up that ethnic melange – the people you and others have often stereotyped – are there.
They help you into a wheelchair. Our car is quite some distance away. No worries. As others prise open the glass doors, one soft spoken Samoan carries you and the wheelchair over the kerb. He wheels you to the car where once again, he lifts you, a complete stranger, ever so gently into the passenger seat.
More doctors, more X-rays. You’re okay. Put the foot up, you’ll be right. But none of that seems to matter much now. You may hurt a little but this night you’ve seen the bleeding obvious – the way stereotypes can blind us. You’ve realised once more that it’s our shared humanity which humbles and heals where it needs to. In your head.