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“I hold the hands of people I never touch.
I provide comfort to people I never embrace.
I watch people walk into brick walls, the same ones over and over again, and I coax them to turn around and try to walk in a different direction.
People rarely see me gladly. As a rule, I catch the residue of their despair. I see people who are broken, and people who only think they are broken. I see people who have had their faces rubbed in their failures. I see weak people wanting anesthesia and strong people who wonder what they have done to make such an enemy of fate. I am often the final pit stop people take before they crawl across the finish line that is marked: I give up.
Some people beg me to help.
Some people dare me to help.
Sometimes the beggars and the dare-ers look the same. Absolutely the same. I’m supposed to know how to tell them apart.
Some people who visit me need scar tissue to cover their wounds.
Some people who visit me need their wounds opened further, explored for signs of infection and contamination. I make those calls, too.
Some days I’m invigorated by it all. Some days I’m numbed.
Always, I’m humbled by the role of helper.
And, occasionally, I’m ambushed.

Stephen White “Critical Conditions”