I am carrying around a great deal of shame today, and I don't do shame well. This past week one of my co-workers expressed that he wasn't feeling well (specifically he said his legs hurt because he had done a great deal of walking for the previous two days), so I asked if he could come in to work with me. During the evening I asked him several times if he was feeling well, and he always said yes. I assumed he was just tired and left it at that. We talked but I noticed that his typing was jumbled, I told him to fix them but, again deferred to his assurances that nothing was wrong.
During the night one of the supervisors came in to take an exam and during that time my coworker fell out of his chair. I assumed he had dozed off, so my initial reaction was a nervous giggle. I asked if he was ok because he had difficulty getting up. I chalked it up to being sleepy and again he was fine. I was certain that he was embarrassed, but I didn't believe that he was ok. The supervisor just looked at him with disdain and kept on working. I felt that I would have embarrassed him by running over to him, so I didn't.
He stood to go out and I noticed that he stumbled. I asked if he needed me to do anything, the reply was no. He left and I was so uncomfortable with worry that I asked him to call me. I assumed he was just sleepy, wanted to believe he was just sleepy, so I told him to try some coffee or a soda.
An hour later he fell and injured himself. His glasses cut his brow, he had a gash on his chin and knee and an abrasion on his arm. He didn't tell anyone he fell and came back to the building. I ended up calling ems for him. He refused to go to the hospital.
Now, let me say, I know I am not responsible for taking care of a grown man who won't admit that there is something wrong. He could have, at any time, let someone know that he was not feeling well. However, I suspect that he generally operates at that level and ignores how he feels. I get that I cannot change that he refused help all evening. I also know that part of the reason he did not immediately call for help is because he didn't want to be ridiculed by other employees.
The source of my shame is that I knew better and ignored what I knew I should try to do. I ignored the alarm bells that went off and made me watch him closely. I ignored my better self; I ignored the part of me that knows I have to do the right thing. I should have pointed out what I was seeing to him and our supervisor. But, I did not. I knew he was not right and I just watched. Who does that?
I was never that person. I am not that person. If I am that person then I have become foreign to myself, or I am delusional, or both. None of these options appeal to me.