How are you, Really?
How do you feel about what is happening in the world today?...Covid-19? Social injustice?
Balancing your personal rights while considering others?
Have you had to overcome a recent struggle?
How are you protecting your mental health? Do you have the people and proper resources around you?
It started out as a normal day, then...
But, first, let me tell you how I am really doing. As both newlyweds (surprise! as of July 4th, more shares to come later on having a wedding/elopement-ish during Covid) and real estate brokers, my hubby, Michael, and I have been anxiously looking to hang up our rental and purchase our first home. It's been a tough battle trying to find the perfect home and location that fits both our real estate and healthcare businesses, along with our future family needs, especially during this Covid-19 global pandemic. Plus, do it all in a very hot Seattle metro housing market. Tables have turned, and we're now on the other end of the housing roller coaster ride that we've helped previous clients navigate. Even though we've helped others successfully house hunt, it is definitely a different experience peering through hundreds of pictures of homes online, walking through selected homes and analyzing neighborhoods to see if it is a good enough fit now and in the near future before submitting offers. In addition, the pandemic has delivered quite a blow to our nation's economy and has had a great deal on when, where, how (and what, at times) we conduct business. How do you prepare financially and mentally for a home purchase now in an uncertain US economic future, right?
So, like I would assume most families with small businesses, we are having many dinner talks about our family. Our future. Our business finances. Our nation. The coronavirus and what our family dynamics would look like if either one of us contracts it. After all, our businesses are "essential" and not work-from-home. They involve very direct, person-to-person contact. People want (and should in many cases) to physically visit properties before purchasing, and our home health/clinical laboratory business mainly focuses on providing direct, in-home nursing fertility injections and maternity care. To top it off, our company also provides Covid-19 and Flu A/B rapid testing for clients in their homes and on the job-site. Talk about being close to the fire, we've jumped right in!
Yeah, this is how we're doing. We are hopeful but also concerned about our day-to-day and our family's future. We are getting by just fine during this pandemic at the moment but not without struggles. And, today, proved to be an especially eye-opening, heart-piercing day that challenged our family's philosophy, moral compass, compassion, and patience...
THE GARBAGE DILEMMA
We slept in this morning, because we stayed up late last night looking at homes and binge-watching episodes of Big Bang Theory, while we snacked on late-night dessert consisting of homemade walnut brownies and ice cream. As we rose from our slumber, we quickly got dressed to view a house that we stumbled upon last night that "could be the one."
As we backed out of the garage, we noticed that the garbage company was running unusually late and that the dump truck was blocking our path out of our one-way in/one-way out gated community. Our viewing was at 10 am, and it was past 9:45 am. Although the viewing was about 10 minutes away, we knew that we better make haste to arrive before our scheduled time. Typically, the driver leaves just enough room for the vehicles in our community to drive around the truck. But, our truck required the driver to back up a bit to squeeze past to avoid hitting the curb. As we waited patiently in the driveway, the driver hopped back in the truck from adjusting a misaligned garbage container and backed up to pick up the garbage container - but not enough for us to get pass. Then, to our amazement, he started moving the truck in a forward position in which we could not maneuver around, which was behavior unlike our normal driver. He continued to truck along and pick up more bins. So, we waited for 6 minutes, until he came to the end of that row of containers, with no acknowledgement from the driver, as both vehicles faced each other.
Then, the driver looked at us, and threw his hands in the air that signified "What are you doing? Move out of my way." Oh goodness, why did he do that? Michael, who I would describe as a very patient man, began to get annoyed and signified that he wanted to maneuver around the truck so all parties can get on with their day. And, like any wife who knows her husband, I said absolutely nothing, looked down, reached for my phone, and checked my email to ensure that we had enough time for our viewing, even if we arrived a little bit later. Somehow, I instinctively knew that it was going to be awhile, as I could smell the thick testosterone air. Let the duel commence.
Driver yelled: Are you going to move?
Husband: I just need you to back up just a little bit, so I can get around you.
Driver: I can't back up in this truck.
Husband: But, I just saw you back up to pick up a garbage bin.
Driver: Well, I can't back up, and I need you to get out of my way, so I can get by. If not, then I'm going to have to call my supervisor, as he waived his cell phone in the air.
Husband: Action - shifted the truck from drive to park.
Me: I exhaled.
3 - 5 minutes later...(what felt like 10)
The supervisor arrives and instructs the driver to back up. We maneuver around, and neither man exchanges words, only looks.
Me: I exhaled.
THE BRIDGE DILEMMA
We are now officially late for our private viewing. Husband verbally expressed his frustration. I acknowledged his feelings, annoyed, and still looking down at my phone and browsing on social media. Then, I noticed that Michael did not drive the vehicle forward after coming to a complete stop at the stop sign located at the end of a short overpass. I looked up at him. He was not looking through the front window but looking through the rear-view mirror. Oh, goodness. "Is the dump truck hastily following us," I thought. I noticed that he had a concerned look on his face and started to not move forward but back up rather quickly. What is going on???
Then, I saw him. He was a well-groomed Caucasian male in his early-late 20's, about 5'9" with white air pods in his ears and wearing black shorts with a silver lining, a teal t-shirt, a backwards orange/tan baseball cap, with his black flip flops positioned neatly together just to the right of him. He was perched over the bride's railing and had one foot on the bridge's step and the other foot on the ground. Rather innocuous by common standards for this neighborhood.
This is the description that I gave to the emergency operator, as I placed the 911 call. Now, when it comes to noticing things around us, I would describe Michael as a hawk, and, me, more like a human-conditioned duck splashing in the community lake. I was too busy looking down at my phone, checked out from my surroundings, that I did not notice another human being literally internally fighting to stay alive.
Michael, yelled out from the truck, asking if he was ok, if he needed help. He was facing the highway with his back was turned to us, as we were now stopped in the middle of the street. We could not see his face. I quickly analyzed his posture to see if he was just unusually enjoyed the view of cars driving down the highway or a potential jumper. The only thing that was unusual was that he was leaning on the rail and his sandals were off. Nothing else. I tried looking for more clues, to know if he was in truly in trouble or if we were just in the way and being an annoyance. Michael, yelled out again, "Hey man, we're just checking to see if you're ok." He turned around and looked at us with red eyes and tear-laden cheeks and cried out, "Just leave me alone!" Having worked in different healthcare fields, including mental health, I knew, we knew, even a blind person would have known, that he was definitely not ok. He needed help.
Now that we've checked in with him, a complete stranger from our middle-class neighborhood, what do we do? He expressed to leave him alone. So, clearly, he did not want us there with him. He was not a family member, friend, nor acquaintance. We had no other connection to this man but the share of a rather large community neighborhood. Plus, we were already annoyed from the garbage truck scenario, behind schedule, just received a notification in which we needed to respond promptly to a client's request for services, and running late to view a potential family home. In addition, we are in a global pandemic and our state has mandated that everyone wear a face covering, if you cannot socially distance in public, to prevent "silent spreaders" of Covid-19. This man, did not have on a mask. Although we had masks in the truck, we were not wearing them, as it was just the two of us in our vehicle. Covid-19 is a very real public health emergency. Does this man have Covid-19? Could he be a silent spreader? Should we go or should we stay?
We looked at each other, and we both knew what we were going to do. We were now the ones blocking others paths forward with our truck. Michael had to pull over a bit to let other vehicles pass by. I called 911 and keenly watched the troubled man. Michael ran to the other side of the bridge to try and flag down a potential police vehicle riding along the highway with his 6'6" stature to get immediate help.
The flagged down officer was the first to arrive on the scene. He calmly approached the distressed man and successfully talked him down from the bridge's side step. Very shortly after, another officer walked up to our truck. He took a report from us, our contact info and thanked us for staying with the man. He said that most jumpings are averted by people talking to and distracting the suicidal person.
As we drove away from the scene, we both looked at each other, said nothing, only exhaled. We arrived much later to the property, as we communicated with the listing agent about why we were late. She was understanding and allowed us extended time to view the property. Even though the house was not a great fit for us, we were at least still able to view it and were able to successfully book another client hoping to expand their family using our IVF home injection service.
HOW ARE YOU DOING, REALLY?
After we calmed down from a rather stressful morning, Michael and I took some time out of our work day to talk about today's happenings.
In our household, we truly believe that everything happens for a reason. From us not being able to see the home the night before to us running unusually late that morning to the garbage truck running unusually late and then getting into a wholly unnecessary battle of egos that ends up further delaying us and causing us to detour from the direct highway route to the overpass route just to blow off some steam. Only to come across someone who needed us to be right there, right then. Subsequently, this caused us to have a very candid conversation with each other about how we are dealing with this whole new world (Don't you dare close your eyes. A 100 thousand things to see.....I digress. Darn you, Disney+!)
We talked about the stresses of everything and how many of our loved ones could be silently suffering, and we don't know. We talked about the social issues of today from people protesting wearing masks to people protesting and seeking to de-fund police departments. Could a better use of those officers' time have been spent investigating actual criminal activities and less on social issues? Is our society asking too much from police officers, and are they overworked and stressed with all of the current issues? Should there be another community service program devoted to domestic disputes and mental health issues?
Additionally, Michael and I both are of African American descent. How did we address our concerns about being black in America and interactions with police officers? There were so many questions, but we know one thing, in this situation, we were happy and relieved to see our local police officers. As civilians, there was not much we could have done for the suicidal man.
We also checked in with each other to see if each other was doing ok and gave each other space and room to express our thoughts, concerns and feelings. Now, it's your turn.
Identify at least 2 - 3 close people in your life, and ask them the following questions:
A) Tell me at least one thing that you are struggling with right now. After they are done talking, ask them how you can help make the situation better, if possible. Make a mental checklist (and later transcribe into a physical checklist) of those ways in which you can help and take at least 1 action step towards helping.
B) After you are done, you can either communicate with those same close people or another set of trusted loved ones, and let them know your struggles. If possible, let them know how they can help you.
NATIONAL & LOCAL RESOURCES
For suicide prevention: Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255
Text “HEAL” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or contacting Lifeline Crisis Chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Under 21? Call Teen Link at 866-TEENLINK (866-833-6546). Ask to speak with a peer. Phone line open 6pm – 10pm. Chat available 6pm – 9:30pm daily.
If you live in Washington state, crisis lines are available regardless of income or insurance status. For resources: https://www.hca.wa.gov/health-care-services-supports/behavioral-health-recovery/mental-health-crisis-lines
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