It's often parked there. Alongside a local city park. Like a hospital clinic on wheels, except with friendly staff, it brings health care to people who need it but may fear it, may avoid it, may not understand it. Often the van staff are on the street simply chatting with those who pass by. Joe and I were carrying hot dogs freshly dressed and ready to be eaten. We were headed to a place where Joe could sit and I could park. It is a great place to people watch.
As I passed by the van I glanced in and saw a woman, sitting, twitching. She looked fearful. I couldn't hear what the guy said to her, but she looked up at him and hung onto his words with a desperation that I could feel out on the street. He slowly placed a hand on her shoulder, a small act of kindness. She covered her face and started to cry.
We had our hotdogs and before we finished I saw her leave. Her face was clean and fresh, the tracks of her tears were long gone. I never saw her go in but I'd bet she was walking taller when she went out. Whatever happened in there wasn't just care, it was magic.
I'm critized by some as an anti-touch guy because of my work contained in the training 'The Ethics of Touch' in which I lobby, strongly, for appropriate boundaries and appropriate touch between care givers and care receivers. But what I saw was so respectful. His touch respected boundaries, and for a woman who probably had her boundaries shattered over and over again, that respect probably mattered as much as the reassuring touch.
For several days I have thought about that simple gentle touch, the complex genuine need, and how they came together. Thank God for those who bring care to work with them, they don't have to, it must cost them, but they do it anyways.
She was touched, and, oddly, so was I.