Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The man, the car, and the kindness

I have a story to tell you...please refrain from leaving a "lecture" comment until you read the entire story.

Yesterday I had a fairly crappy morning. I ran multiple errands with no makeup and hair that had been washed but not dried or brushed. If you know me, you know how big it is that I even considered leaving the house with no makeup and no hair-do.

So anyway, I was on my way from dropping Caleb off at baseball camp to my mom's to help her edit a paper Woody wrote. As I turned off of India Hook onto Ebinport I almost hit a car that was sitting right at the turn of the intersection. If you know anything about the traffic in RH you know that this particular intersection is pretty busy. This car was in a really, really bad place. And the man who was driving the car was out of the car with the hood up, the driver door open and kind of laying half in/half out the door looking under the dashboard.

I passed him, drove about 20 yards, and said to Sarah, "I need to help him, Sarah. But I really don't want to help him." See, I had been really griping and fussing about 30 seconds earlier about all the crap I had to do, etc. Anyway, I pulled into the school parking lot, made Sarah get out of her car seat and come lock the door and walked back to the man and his car.

I asked if he needed help. He stood up and said "She just quit on me. She's got a brand new batt'ry. The speedo dropped down, the 'lectric stopped, and she just quit on me right at the light." (You've got to say all that in a really fantastic British accent! Found out he's from the middle of England).

I suggested that he put his car in neutral and I help him push it into the school parking lot, to which he said "That might be a lovely idea...this is a rather bad spot to be seated." So we commence to push...easy pushing, I thought. We only pushed the car about 20 yards and into the school parking lot where he closed the door and stopped to catch his breath.

I asked if I could call someone for him. He said "Well, if you don't mind, you could give a lift to my destination. I drive a disabled lady and I'm on the way to her place. It's only down at the next light and take a left." So for a milli-second I freaked out. I'm female, in my nice car with my beautiful daughter and this man is asking for a ride. OH MY WORD!!! What do I do???? I say ok...that's what I do.

I call my mom and say "I've come upon a man who's car has died and I'm giving him a lift to his next stop. I should be there in about 15 minutes." My mom didn't know that I was on my way over...I just called her to let someone know. She got the hint.

So the man got in my car, I drove him less than one mile and dropped him at the place he was headed. He was a very kind gentleman, and extremely thankful for the ride, etc. He talked to Sarah while in the car, and we discussed possible reasons his car may have died...I'm fairly sure that his alternator is bad and the people where he bought his "batt'ry" should have tested it too, but didn't.

As soon as he got out of the car, Sarah and I had the following conversation:

S: That was REALLY nice of you, Mommy!

M: Yes, but I shouldn't have done that. I didn't think it through, Sarah.

S: Why? I'd want somebody to do that for us!

M: I know, Sarah, I would too, but I took a really big risk putting a stranger in my car, period. But then I did it with my beautiful daughter in the car too! I wasn't thinking. What I should've said was "Sir, I'm sorry your car is broken and please don't be upset by this, but I'm not comfortable driving you. I will be happy to call anyone for you...a taxi, a tow service, Triple A, and I'll wait with you if you'd like, but just not drive you anywhere."

I went on to say that when Sarah is able to drive she should NEVER, EVER do anything like that. It's not ok to drive strangers. We can be nice and helpful, but it really was not a smart thing that I did. Don't our children learn from our EXAMPLE? Actions speak louder than words, right??? Oh well, I guess I blew that lesson. Then I called mom to say we were on the way and fine.

Now, I know you think this story should be over, but I've more to say. It was 100 degrees in Rock Hill yesterday. When I decided to stop, it was because I could see that this man was at least my dad's age, and he would more than likely have been hurt. His car was in a terrible place so he was at risk of being hit and injured, then there was also the risk of heat related illness. During all of this, there were at least 50 people driving past us. Probably half of them were men younger than 45. Now, here's a man in his 60s, sweating, pushing a car, and a chick in flip flops and a pink t-shirt pushing too and not one other single person considered stopping!

I thought about writing a letter to the editor of our local paper expressing my disgust with people in our society, but I know that it probably won't change much, and it would just earn a name for me in my small community of some stupid woman who put her life and the life of her daughter at risk.

I really and truly believe in random acts of kindness! My day immediately got better! I was in such a great mood after helping that man! Really just listening to him talk made me happy, but doing what I did gave me a really great high. I am NOT soliciting nice comments, or any comments, really. I'm trying to get this message out....please be nice. Try being nice to everyone. We really need a better place to live...and I believe that just changing our attitudes about being nice and helpful and kind to the people we share the earth with will make it a better place to live!

Ok...now the story's over. Carry on! :)

1 comment:

Kim Eckhardt said...

Wow. I probably would have stopped too. And offered the guy a ride. Bad. Bad. Bad. But, at least you explained it to your daughter how she should have handled it. Don't do as I do...do as I say...