Back in the early 2000’s, before I was 21 years of age, I was living in Austin Texas. I was working for a great non-profit, had a wonderful job, boss and salary. Being a night owl, but not allowed to enter the bars and drink (legally), gave me inspired ideas on ways to explore and discover Austin after dark. If you’re wondering why I wouldn’t just go out during the day when almost everything was open. The answer is that Austin is oppressively hot and humid 11 months and 28 days out of the year, and I had no time for that.
My friend V and I would find fun spots around town, meeting new and interesting people at coffee shops, drum circles, poker nights, co-op parties and more. V and I would even jump in her car and drive everywhere from Florida to Denver and anywhere else we wanted to go in a night. We made it from Austin TX to Pensacola FL one night in 8 hours. Aside from the hurricane when we got there, it was just another successful outing for us.
One night, around midnight, we left Spider House cafe, a popular coffee shop. We were bored, as usual, and didn’t know what to do. I suggested we head over to Dreamers, a 24 hour “adult” store. I needed some more blueberry flavoured lube, and why not kill some time perusing the varied variety of pornography available. I kid you not, they had one row of gay porn but two full shelves of granny porn. So we were just browsing, admiring the adult toys and I find the lube I wanted. It was sitting on the counter near the register. I walked up and had a conversation with the girl working the counter. She was probably 22, or 23, light brown hair, sweet smile. I assumed she was a student at UT, working to support herself while in school.
As I’m talking with her, she is ringing me up and as she is about to ask me “cash or card?” Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she collapsed to the ground convulsing uncontrollably. I’m terrified and shocked. I dump my bag on the counter searching for my mobile phone. I call 9-1-1 and describe in detail what happened, begging them to send an ambulance right away. The dispatcher asked me the location. I had no idea, I told her it was “Dreamers on the side of I-35, anyone in Austin knows it.” She said she needed the address, I desperately search the counter for a business card, seeing none I call out to the two guys ready to check out with their videos, who have just been watching the entire time, to “run outside and get the number of the building.”
I was pissed that these two grown men(one in his forties, the other in his fifties) have been standing there the entire time just observing, not moving at all. I don’t know if it was shame that they were in an adult store, or if they both were in shock and froze, but either way, I was pissed. If you see someone in need of help, you help. Anyway, thank Buddha for V, she was at the back wall and heard me yell out. She ran outside and got me the number. The EMS arrived quickly, and I stayed on the phone with dispatch until they did. The sales associate finally came too, and apparently she was epileptic.
She seemed to be back to normal, talking regularly with no signs of what just happened to her. The EMT offered to take her to the hospital, but she said she has had this happen before and was sure she was fine. My heart was racing non-stop for about 45 minutes after we left. V and I called it a night after that. I was still so upset at those two men standing there, not doing anything while it was happening. I needed a good nights sleep.
A few weeks later, V and I went to the lingerie store next door to Dreamers, called Le Rouge. As we were shopping and talking to the sales woman she said, “Don’t I know you two? You are the ones who help out when Katy at Dreamers had a seizure!” V and I were startled, but the sales associate informed us that they are sister stores and they have video cameras to both stores as both shops usually operate with just one staff at a time. She explained that she was helping a customer when it happened and she didn’t even know until the EMT arrived. It made my mind a little easier knowing that they can look in on each other, if necessary. I hope that poor girl never has another seizure, but if she does, I hope there is someone there to help her.
The point of this experience is this: if you see someone in need of help, help or get help. Don’t expect or assume someone else will.