Archive for May, 2010

What Would You Do?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

The other day I woke up a little late and rushed around the house as I got ready for work. Nothing seemed to be going right and I didn’t want to be late for work because I needed to get out on time to run errands later that day.

When I finally opened the cellar door a brisk chill slapped me in the face. It was a raw, gray day. Rain pelted me from above as I quickly made my way to the truck. After I backed out of the driveway and began my journey to work the rain became heavier. By the time I reached the city it was necessary to turn my windshield wipers to a higher setting.

When I glanced at my watch I knew that it was going to be a race to get to work on time. That’s when I decided to take a different route than I normally take. I figured I would take a few side streets to avoid the hassle of stopping at red-lights. Although I usually enjoy the down-time when I’m stopped, I felt something tugging at me to change my routine. My heart raced, but everything else seemed like it was in slow-motion.

As the wheels hummed over the pavement beneath me the rain began to pound off the windshield with a fury all its own. I would only have to stop at 2 red-lights this way compared to the normal 7.

When I approached the first light I saw what looked like a man, riding a bicycle, in the distance. He was coming up the street on the other side of the light. Since this light takes forever to change I sat there patiently and listened to my heart beat inside my head.

Suddenly, the man catapulted off from his bike and lay motionless in the road. The light turned green and I slowly approached the fallen bike rider. As I got closer I could see that he was in his early thirties. He was dressed in khaki pants and a dress shirt. He had a home-made poncho covering his body. The poncho was made out of a clear garbage bag.

I pulled up next to him and got out. I asked him if he was ok. He responded that he was ok. After that I asked if I could help him out or take him to wherever he was going. He said he would be ok and didn’t need anything that he could think of. He told me that the front tire of the bike hit a pot-hole which made him fall to the ground.

As I walked back to my truck he did something that made me feel really good. I’m not sure why, but it just hit the spot. He said, “Hey, I just want to say thank you for stopping to make sure I was ok.”

I hadn’t thought twice about it. When I saw him on the ground I figured he was ok, but I felt that it was my obligation to stop just to make sure. I don’t know his name and I don’t know anything about the man. The only thing I can hope for is that if he’s ever in a similar situation on the other end that he will do the same for someone. First impressions are everything. The meeting was very brief, but I got the idea that he was a good man with a kind soul. I could see how thankful he was for my concern.

After I told him that it wasn’t a problem I continued on my journey toward work. There was no doubt I would be late at that point. Ten minutes earlier I would have done anything in the world to make sure I wasn’t going to be late. Then, without hesitation, all of the previous thoughts disappeared from my head like water evaporating from a pond. I figured I did a good deed and if I was lucky some day someone might return the favor to me. That’s all that really mattered.

The rest of the day went quickly. I was still able to run my errands without interference from anything else. Over the last few days I wondered whether or not most people would have stopped.  To me it was a no brainer, but I also realize how many people would have considered it a no brainer to continue driving without acknowledging the man flopping around in the puddle on the street. Every circumstance brings different actions with it.

Over the weekend one of my closest friends in the world moved to a new place to live. She had spent the better part of 18 years in the place that she said goodbye too. Although I had to move a few years ago my situation was much different. She had to move because her landlord didn’t pay the mortgage and the house went into foreclosure. She didn’t have a choice in the situation which must have made it extremely tough.

When you have half a lifetime of memories in one place it’s very hard to leave all of that behind and start new. She remained strong and did the best she could with it, but I could still feel the pain as a distant observer.

We can all hide things from others, but many times the people closest to us can feel in some small way some of the things we are feeling, too. I could relate to the sudden change in an entirely different way. While some people can pick up and not bat an eyelash, it takes a while for others to become comfortable. We have to realize that everyone goes at their own pace. We can’t speed them up or slow them down. We just have to accept the way they do things and give them support when they need it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what they need and we remain quiet. We hope that they know that we care and that our silence has its own meaning.

As one day leads into the next this spring and summer try to make good first impressions for anyone you might come in contact with. Sometimes that first impression will be the only one you are ever able to make.