Sometimes, we just aren’t ourselves. It could be we didn’t get enough sleep or hadn’t been eating right, or one of our pets or friends are sick. At times like that, we have found that life can go sideways… And sometimes, the skid is slowed and eased into a better trajectory by a public servant.

This is a recounting of one of those times. Asleep in the theater (not sleeping well at night), suddenly awakened by the sounds of explosions and flashing lights — Huh? What!! Where are we? Why is our movie theater exploding? Fleeing this horrible occurrence, still half asleep and babbling – no other way to describe it, we ran into an office. Normally off-limits to the public, but it looked like a safe place to be. Repeating ourselves, looking paranoid, clutching some small item in our hands….

Well, if we were the manager, we would have called 911, too.

Response was quick and ready to secure the public’s safety from the unknown threat. Nothing really changing for us, pretty much the same, but now a couple of big guys are in the room, too. A few more people arrived, including some family members. We are still confused, panicking, not sure what is going on, nervous as all get out, repeating ourselves. No one seems to understand we are just trying to calm ourselves down.

Now things start to slow down. Someone else is sitting down with us. The others are backing away. Oh, and one of our sisters, too. It is easier to focus, though we sense a lot of time is passing. Among the responders, we later learned, was an officer professionally trained in negotiation. And patiently waited it out with us until things began to make sense. Helping us realize a trip up to the hospital could be a good thing. They offered to drive us there, let another sister come along with us; talked to other adults in the family; gave us a path to seek wellness.

We can now say “Thanks Officer Fernandez,” and thanks City of Little Falls, for believing in the power of patience, understanding and kindness when dealing with the unknown. And hiring and retaining people who help us all be the better versions of ourselves. We all are better off with these empathetic choices.

Mary Trombley
Little Falls NY