The kindness of strangers has limits

14 Feb

Yesterday walking home from the grocery store (which is literally right across the street), I saw a girl struggling to get her car out of a parking space. Her wheels were spinning and digging her deeper and deeper into the snow. Having been in the same situation 24 hours before and rescued by the kindness of strangers, I decided to pay it forward and offer to help.

After pushing and digging and offering creative ideas for traction, I’d helped make absolutely no progress. If a thought bubble had appeared above my head, it would’ve said, “F*ck. What have I gotten myself into?” because – as I sat there pushing her bumper – it occurred to me: there’s no easy way to walk away. Once you’ve offered assistance, you’re in the game until the clock runs out.

That is, unless you’re *this* girl. After about ten minutes of serious effort, I started trying to craft an exit strategy. I pointed to the hardware store across the street and started backing away from her car, “I guess you should probably go buy a shovel…”

She reached in her backseat and produced a shovel. Damn.

I tried sending her into Safeway for kitty litter, but it turns out she already had a bag of THAT in her backseat as well. I started to get the feeling that this chick’s car was about as stocked as a contestant’s purse on Let’s Make a Deal.

With one long look at my frozen pizza and thoughts of its cheesy goodness, I decided to bail without hesitation. I tapped on her window, “Listen, I guess I’m not strong enough. You need two big guys or AAA roadside assistance. Good luck.”

And I walked away. Just like that. I felt my own jaw drop with the karmic horror of it. If there’s something worse than turning a blind eye to someone in need, it’s probably being a fair-weather helper and bailing before the job is done.

The good news: later in the afternoon when I ran back to Safeway, I saw that her car was gone. In its place were four huge piles of kitty litter. I’m not sure exactly what that means.

One Response to “The kindness of strangers has limits”

  1. Alicia February 19, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Phil has a 6th sense for situations that I might want to volunteer to help with. Before I even say a word he restrains me with a hand across the chest and a quiet, “Don’t EVEN think about it.” Arsehole or realist?

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