Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Being Helpful

Last week I was on my way home from work. My commute is well over an hour from the office and usually I enjoy the peaceful drive. At home I have three kids, three dogs, two cats, the husband, and a mother.My commute and visits to the bathroom (most of the time) are the ONLY times I'm in any space alone! Every now and then at the end of the day I want to be home as soon as possible. Last Friday was one of those days, I was hungry, tired and just wanted to play with my kids. Ofcourse, this would be the day my car was almost out of gas, so I begrudgingly stopped at the gas station to fill up. Pumping gas, I was counting the minutes(and money) I was losing by having to fill up and felt more exhausted by the second.

I started to look around and noticed a man standing in front of his car with the hood up. He had jumper cables attached to his battery and was going to various men at the gas station asking for a jump. I wasn't sure how long he had been there, but I could see that he was frustrated and appeared hurt when each man he approached turned him away. My car was finally full so I made my way inside the gas station to buy a drink for the ride. While inside, I saw the man approach a few more men and again get rejected. Now at this point I had a choice to make, I could get in my car and continue my journey home or I could take a little more time and offer the man help. I made my way out of the gas station toward my car. I noticed the man did not approach me, I don't know if this was some sexist assumption or if he was being repsectful. I have chosen to believe that he was being respectful. I looked at him and shouted across the parking lot "do you need help?" (I know, here's your sign right). The relief I saw across the man's face was instantaneous, "Oh please, I need a jump." I told him I'd be right over and pulled my car in front of his. Much to my relief, he did everything, I didn't want to have to touch a dirty car battery (I am a feminist but also a princess). The process took maybe 50 seconds and the gentleman again expressed his gratitude and bid me farewell.

On my way home I wondered why, of all the people this man approached, I was the only one willing to help. Was everyone else too busy? Maybe they didn't want to take the time. Did it have something to do with the man's accent? He appeared to be of middle eastern descent. Or, are people just down right not interetsed in being helpful? Well, if there such a thing as Karma or kismet or whatever, When I am stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery, someone will stop to help. When everyone who refused to help gets stuck, they'll remain stuck!

For me, there is no reason not to help our fellow man. If it seems like too much when you see someone needing help, just stop and think about how you might feel if you needed help and noone would lend a hand. We are all part of the human family so let's acknowledge each other, make eyecontact, and do something for someone else! However small or large the help, it will make a difference for the person in need at that moment and it will make a difference for you. Trust me, when you're in need you'll be glad of every helpful act as you get paid back ten fold.


Chris said...

Every time I'm standing in line at the grocery store and start to feel impatient, I remember your story about when you were in line and telling the clerk that things could be much worse (you should write about that) and I immediately feel my anxiety and impatience lessening. Thanks for making a difference in my life (every single day). I'm going to try and not be so oblivious to what's going on around me and look for opportunities to lend a helping hand.

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