While hurrying to class this morning among throngs of students on the quad, I heard the sickening thud of a body hitting the sidewalk and the scattering of papers. When the crowd parted I saw that an old man who looked like emeritus faculty had fallen. It took me a few seconds to get to him, in part because everyone in the area continued walking around him. He was breathing hard and was scared. I thought he might be having a heart attack or stroke, but he said he was alright, and when I asked if he could stand, he said yes. I got him on his feet, alone. Somebody else did hand him his papers. When it seemed he could continue, I left.
Why in the world didn’t you say something? I said.
I’m terrified of spiders, she said. And you were giving a great lecture.