On this quiet Saturday morning, I find myself thinking a lot about Doug.

A few days ago, I arrived early at a hotel before a breakfast with my friend, James Cooke. I was hanging out in the lobby. Out of the corner of my eye, something looked odd.

I saw an older man in a suit, sitting on the floor, unseen amid the hustle and bustle of a hotel lobby. When I looked closer, I saw that his hands shook, his mouth was agape, and he vainly tried to stand up.

I ran over. I waved over a hotel attendant and told him to call 911. I and another person knelt down next to the man. We held his hands.

“Hi, what’s your name?”


“Can you breathe easily?”


“Any tightness in your chest? Pain in your arm?”

“No. I have to get up. I have a job interview. My ride is outside waiting for me.”

“Well, let’s just take a few minutes to rest. Take a few deep breaths.” I rubbed Doug’s back to try to reassure him. He didn’t look well. His eyes were glassy.

Man oh man, it took forever for the ambulance to come. So, I just sat there with Doug, rubbing his back. And, I quietly prayed for him.

Eventually, he agreed to lie down, but not after trying over and over to get up for his interview. He was clearly embarrassed, particularly when his job interviewer entered the lobby to look for him.

“I’m so sorry,” Doug said to him. He slapped his palms on the floor.  “I’m so sorry,” he said, over and over.

When the paramedics came, we learned from Doug that he had a seizure last week but didn’t see a doctor about it. Doug’s chin quivered now and again, and he sometimes had a hard time speaking.

After a while, there wasn’t much else I could do. I withdrew to the side as the paramedics did their job. But, I kept praying.

Honestly, I felt helpless. The only thing I felt I could do was to transmit somehow to him compassion.


So, I’m thinking about Doug this morning.

8 thoughts on “911

  1. Thank you for sharing. I am imagining how you felt, and how Doug felt- his fear of being ill mingled with his fear of missing his interview.

    1. Thanks, Rob. Yes, Doug flew in from Atlanta for the interview. In today’s tight economy, I hear some employers discriminate based on age. I can only surmise what was going through Doug’s head as he lay catatonic on the floor, while his interviewer walked in, wondering where Doug was.

      But, the good news of all this is that we have great doctors in the Boston area. And, when he fell, Doug wasn’t alone.

  2. Powerful.

    I had a similar moment a few months ago at an event held at Rally. As people were leaving, I noticed one old man sitting in his seat looking uncomfortable. Several others noticed about the same time and three of us wandered over to check on him. He was having trouble breathing but was trying to muscle through it.

    We calmed him down, talking to him continually. One person went off to call an ambulance. He was getting worse, but still talking. None of us really knew what else to do but comfort him and wait.

    The paramedics came. They were awesome – and he was visibly relieved when they gave him oxygen.

    All end up ok, but when you engage in the moment, it reminds you of our mortality. And – in your case – reminds you how easily someone could be overlooked.

    You did a mitzvah for Doug by noticing him.

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