Encounters… with a flying pot

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.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.