Hospitality of Strangers

One of several strange and uplifting stories that came out of my trip to Montpelier and interview with the Montpelier and Plainfield churches. As with most strange (and stressful) stories, this involves my handful of a kid, Ari.

We arrived in the Montpelier area early on Thursday so that my husband could do some paperwork at the Department of Education and get his fingerprints taken at the Sheriff’s Department for his teaching job-hunt. Then we met up with his sister and brother in law for lunch at a great Thai restaurant (wait, wait, I’m moving to a town with a great Thai restaurant?!?!), and then to a coffee shop.

While at the coffee shop, my daughter took a little walk with her aunt and her papa, and got a little curious on one of Montpelier’s many bridges. Hoping to see some fish in the little river, she stuck her head between two of the metal rails on the Langdon Street bridge. And, of course, she couldn’t get it back out.

She was stuck for maybe five minutes. It felt like an eternity, but it was only about five minutes, I think. My husband ran (back) to the Sheriff’s station, and within half a minute, there was a cruiser on Langdon Street and sirens indicating the approach of the fire department and the ambulance.

In the mean time, however, something happened that I did not expect. Here in Albany, had something like this happened, I imagine a few passersby would have offered to call 911. That’s not how we roll in Vermont.

The shops on the street emptied.

Cooks came from their kitchens in their aprons, carrying tubs of butter and vats of cooking oil. Observers offered suggestions. One barefoot man, smelling of old beer, ran to a construction site on the next street and returned with four big construction workers and a crowbar. The construction workers, however, grabbed the bars from opposing sides, two above her head and two below, and pulled, creating just enough space for Ari to pull her head free.

A doctor stopped on his way by and examined the back of her head, and then the EMTs arrived and took her blood pressure and pulse and gave her a teddy bear.

Half an hour later, in a toy store a few streets away, a couple recognized us and asked if she was okay.

Ah, yes. This is (one of many reasons) why I think I’ll love Montpelier.