12 December 2012

The Jumper

I kept hearing laughter, loud talking, joking coming from my boss' office.   It was late afternoon.  I had just said goodbye to my boss.  So what was going on in her office?  I kept working.  I had an hour left til the end of the work day and too much to get done, so I didn't get up to go check.  But the noise went on, for a good 45 minutes.  And slowly -- as I subconsciously tuned into the conversations - I realized what was going on.

The reason for this gathering?  It wasn't a party.  But it was a "disconnect".  They were gathered there for a better look at the jumper.  Because we're on the 19th floor, we have a view of the city and the freeway below.  In the nine years I've worked in downtown L.A., I've seen several like him climb over the bridge railing and  think about ending it all.  People kept coming and going into the office. And I heard "is he still there?", "anything yet?", "wish he'd jump already."  There were jokes made, someone suggesting "music to jump by."  More laughter.
I am so  hurt and saddened by this display of insensitivity by my coworkers.   As I sat at my desk trying to focus on my work, I couldn't.   I thought about the crucifixion, and how the people taunted Christ when He was on the cross.  I thought about how alone He must have felt and how alone the jumper must be feeling on the bridge.  From the corner office I could hear them calling him a "loser", an "idiot", a "nut".  

We hear so much about bullying in schools.  What about bullying in life?  That's what was going on.    Sure, the victim wasn't right there, but it was that same taunting, and the banding together of those that were doing it....with a common goal.  To mock someone less fortunate.  What would have happened if instead they showed caring and concern for this poor man in his time of need.  What would have happened if they came to his aid and helped him off the bridge?  But it was probably that very mocking that brought the jumper to this point in his life.  Maybe by others, maybe by his own inner self.

As disappointed as I was though, my deepest disappointment was in myself.    I didn't participate in that corner office gathering, but I am no better. By choosing not to say anything, I allowed it to go on.    I thought about what I could have done.  I wouldn't have been able to go down to the street level and deal with the jumper, but I could have gone into the office and expressed how I was feeling and maybe that would have made some of them think about their comments and actions.  So why didn't I?  Did it have to do with fitting in?  A little.  But it was more that I felt it just wouldn't make a difference to them..or to the jumper.  But the truth is that it did make a difference.  And because I did nothing, it made a difference to me.   Try as I might to work, I couldn't.   I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Eventually, the police got to the jumper and convinced him to step off the bridge.  Thank God.  The show was over, and everyone went back to work.

That night, I said a prayer for the jumpers of the world -- those that are lonely, the taunted, the bullied. I prayed that God show His love to them through us.  I prayed for the bullies...that God open their hearts and fill them with compassion and love toward others.  And I prayed for the silent - that God would open our mouths to help us to speak out for injustice.  And give us courage to do what was right. 

This morning, at my desk, I received an email from my boss.  It was a mass mailing to the entire office.  A photo from the previous afternoon accompanied the email - "Here's a view from my office, " it said.  "What's new with you?" and a happy face.

This time I did speak up.  I wrote her an email response, and told her how sad the whole thing made me...what had gone on in her office...and how this man on the bridge was someone's child..someone's son.  I told her how disappointed I was in myself for not speaking out.  And I continued, "...and so I needed to write this in response to your email...because staying silent didn't sit well with me."

I received a response: "thanks for the reminder that I need to be more sensitive. I know that was not your intention, but I need to work on that for myself."

I need to work on that for mysef too.

1 comment:

Jim said...

wow! thank God you did get the courage to speak eventually.thanks for sharing your story.