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I'm a part-time clerk at an AM/PM in Mira Mesa. Saturday is busy, but, this past Saturday at 8 p.m., the store was empty and my coworker and I began to relax behind our registers. The glass door swung open and in walked a man with slightly stooped shoulders, gray hair, and a kindly smile on his face. He was everyone’s "grampa."

Halfway through the store, passing in front of both of us, he stopped, went down on one knee, and slowly toppled over. My coworker ran to him. I ran to dial 911.

The operator answered quickly and asked if the man was conscious. I asked my partner, who kneeled by the man’s side. She said, "No pulse." The man was turning a bluish color.

My mind was reeling, unable able to comprehend what was before me. Time stood still. The operator said to hit the man’s chest. I handed the phone to my partner, and what was slow motion became fast forward as the doors burst open and a young woman sobbing loudly ran in, jumped down, and started to compress the old man’s chest.

I thought the woman might be his granddaughter, and I asked her who she was to him. Her answer hung in the air as she told us she didn't know him. She was just getting gas and saw what happened and felt compelled to help.

Time again began to slow when four police cruisers rushed up to the front doors, sirens screaming and lights flashing. I don't know why, but I looked at my watch. It seemed like an hour since he fell, but it had been only six minutes.

My eyes followed the policemen as they surrounded the old man. My head jerked back to the door as the fire truck arrived. As the EMTs scrambled in, time began racing again. The ambulance pulled up. Again I looked at my watch -- eight minutes, only eight minutes had passed.

They worked on him for half an hour, and as they left, one of the policemen said, "I think they got a faint pulse."

As the store became quiet again, my mind shifted from sadness to awe to an overwhelming sense of pride. What a great country we live in where so many people rush to the aid of someone they don't know.

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robertsonx6 March 10, 2009 @ 2:26 p.m.

Rick Just, the unidentified man in your story, was a good friend of my mother's for over 20 years. It made her feel so much better to read this story and know that there were kind people with him in the end, trying their hardest to save his life.

Thank you for your article.


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