Vienna, Austria: Shirleyfest 2017…….and human kindness in San Francisco

Get ready Vienna–you are hosting my next Shirleyfest. The place where Sacher Torte meets Gustav Klimt and offers palaces, music, coffee houses, a giant ferris wheel, the Third Man Museum, one of my favorite wines (Gruner Veltliner) and Lipizzan horses, will be my home for one month this fall. I hope you will enjoy the posts that I publish once the trip begins and if you know people in Vienna that would be fun for me to meet please let me know.

The other part of my post is a local story of human kindness. One of the people in the picture below broke her hand in a fall 15 minutes before this shot was taken…..hint, while smiling thru her tears she is holding her left wrist. IMG_8427

Yes, in broad daylight in the afternoon while walking down Polk Street in San Francisco, I slipped on  some gravel and did what you are never suppose to do–put my hand out to catch myself. I lay there in the intersection, unable to move,  even tho my brain was telling me the traffic light was going to change any minute.  Next thing I know two men are picking me up and the two ladies above are guiding them to a bench outside where they had been having afternoon drinks. One man, Guillaume, is a doctor from Belgium and is visiting San Francisco with his friend Guy-Luc, an attorney.  They had just gotten a bottle of wine at the outdoor cafe and were chatting with Katelynn and Lauren, who they had just met and who were visiting from Baltimore. They all sprang into action, getting a bucket of ice,wrapping my hand and immersing it, putting ice on my cheek and procuring tylenol and a glass of water.  Guillaume began evaluating my hand and so gently and kindly said, “I’m sorry Shirley, but I am pretty sure it is broken. You will need to go get x-rays and take care of it.”  Examples #1-4 of the kindness of people.

Below is a picture texted to me of Guy-Luc (left) and Guillaume (right) the next day in their tourist mode having flown to Oregon to see the Multnomah Falls.IMG_8443

 I text my friend Amanda and ask if instead of the fun evening we had planned for that night, would she like to take me to the ER. She readily agrees to that incredibly exciting offer. Example #5 of the kindness of people. 

So what’s girl to do? I buy my good samaritan friends a round of aperol spritzes and the five of us get to know each other. We speak the universal language of people who love to travel and have a wonderful conversation about food, cities, life and love.  With hugs all around, Amanda swoops up in her smart car and off we go to the ER, but not before a genius idea that a good bottle of red wine and glasses tucked into her tote might make the wait at the ER bearable ( it really did!).  During the wait, I contact my friend Barry, a wonderful surgeon at Palo Alto Medical Foundation and author of the new book, The Cutting Edge of Compassion.   He tells me to take a picture with my iPhone of the x-ray and text it to him even tho he is at a concert. I do that after getting fixed up with a temporary splint and later that night he calls to figure out the plan with me . Example #6 of the kindness of people.

I could continue my story with more examples, like Alex, who took the train up the next day so he could drive me and my car home, Laura, who promptly offered to get a plane from New York if I needed her, and so many people who offered to help me  with rides and food in my temporary one-handed state.  While a broken hand is hardly a life threatening emergency, this incident really reminded me of our human connectedness and how genuinely kind people are.  The timing of that reminder is quite significant as I get ready to throw myself solo into the world on my next Shirleyfest.  Bring it on Vienna–I am wrapped in the warmth of  human kindness.

The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. William Wordsworth