Sunday, September 23, 2007

jump

We were at a gas station last night when my car unexpectedly died. No lights, nothing. The battery must have shorted or stalled or god knows what, but regardless, my car was dead. It was dark and there were a few cars around coming and going. We dug out some jumper cables (who's the rock star for even remembering to have them in my car) and cables in hand, started eyeballing the strangers around me for help. A few noticed and still got in their cars and drove off. One told me directly he didn't have time to stop and help and another pretended not to understand what I was asking him even though those cables were dangling from my hands at the time. One actually tried but his battery was unaccessible.

Luckily I called a nearby friend who was able to come and give us a jump. Ten minutes later she arrived and we got the car started and drove home. If she wouldn't have been able to come we would have called AAA, a service we pay for annually just in case we need it. It wasn't a big deal because we had options at our disposal. An inconvenience at most.

But as I sat there waiting it crossed my mind that without resources of my own, namely friends and money, then I quite possibly would have been out of solutions for the night. Barring the kindness of strangers we'd have been quite on our own. And what would that have meant for M, currently nestled in her car seat behind us on one of the first cold nights of the year?

Part Two coming next.

35 comments:

Tabba said...

Rav & I just watched 'Babel' last night.....
I instantly thought of that movie when I was reading this.

Can't wait to read what's next.

(oh, maybe the alternator?)

Tabba said...

Rav & I just watched 'Babel' last night.....
I instantly thought of that movie when I was reading this.

Can't wait to read what's next.

(oh, maybe the alternator?)

Karen said...

you are quite right, it's alarming when you realize how very close we all are to the edge - unemployment without both our sets of parents living and able to help would have spelled out a very different future for us, we were broke, but fed, warm and had hope for our future. It could have easily been so different. Sometimes when I come to your blog, I wonder if we can all find a way to be their for each other in more substantive ways. Can we?

liv said...

It's amazing what people will do or say to get away from helping others. That we can get so separated from our mutual humanity is tragic. I'm glad you got help. xoxo

slouching mom said...

And, to follow up on what liv wrote, how utterly grateful and surprised we are when a stranger DOES help.

Why should it be such a rarity for strangers to help one another?

painted maypole said...

I'm just shocked that no strangers would help you. I would've helped you! and not just you... anyone! That you had to CALL someone, when all you needed was someone with a car for about 2 minutes. makes me sad.

Blog Antagonist said...

Sometimes, people just suck.

On the other hand, if someone had offered to help, I might have been suspicious of their motives, particularly if that person was male.

This world can be a screwed up place sometimes.

kristen said...

that person that didn't have time to help? karma kickback dude. i hope you're never in need.

how sad for that person, truly.

i blew out a tire and ended up in an unsavory part of town with my girl in the back seat. we made it to the gas station (thank god there was one) and i can't tell you how many people couldn't/wouldn't help. until my guardian angel showed up and spent over an hour changing my tire, making himself late so he could help.

crazymumma said...

This is prrecisely what I find is our most problematic societal ill.

the unwillingness to stop look and help. Sometimes all it takes is an 'are you ok do you need a hand'. Sometimes just a car with a battery.

Most of the time it is more.

But what has happened to the day when you give up your seat on the bus to a person with packages, or age or pregnancy. What has happened to holding the door out of just sheer courtesy.

These tiny pieces of decency all put together, I believe, make a better world.

And when you do the small decencies, then it is so much easier, and so much more natural to NOT allow the larger indecencies occur.

flutter said...

I always help. It's part of paying it forward, because someone once helped me.

Why can't people just get their heads out of their asses and step up?

Her Grace said...

I'm sad that you had so much trouble finding help from strangers.

I know, without a doubt, that if we were both to lose our jobs tomorrow, our families would take care of us until we got back on our feet. We wouldn't be able to maintain our standard of living, but we'd have shelter, food, clothing. I can't imagine what it's like not to have that safety net, and it's something that I'm consciously grateful for.

Can't wait to hear the rest of your story.

Jonathon Morgan said...

I totally understand little moments like that, when I get just a little perspective on things.

Pgoodness said...

Hmm..kindness of strangers...it's still out there...
yesterday, a kind lady at the bookstore offered to help me carry my books out to my car....and then, my mom and I were shopping at Ikea and a woman and her husband helped us get some things off a shelf.

Today, a person came to my door collecting bottles for the local h.s. band (that I always support) and I said no, I didn't have any right then. The dogs were freaking out, Preston was waiting for lunch, which was on the stove and I was in the middle of putting away groceries. She smiled, said thanks and walked away. I shut the door, walked back into the kitchen and said aloud - HOW RIDICULOUS! I quick grabbed a bag of bottles and cans and ran outside before she left.

How selfish of me to turn her down because I was inconvenienced!

For the record - I would have helped you start your car - especially with M in there.

Janet said...

I would add to Slouching Mom's comment: we are also, sadly, suspicious when a stranger offers unsolicited help.

I think it's an unfortunate byproduct of the fact that strangers help one another so infrequently.

Can't wait to read part two.

bgirl said...

smart lady to have the jumper cables, with the cool weather on the way you've prompted me to have a blanket and some extras in the car.

eager to read part 2.

Seattle Mamacita said...

I think of this often what do you do when your resources are tapped when you have no friends, no family? I once forgot my purse and ran out of gas. i didn't own a cell phone at the time so I had to ask people for money. It was a really strange experience having to rely on the kindness of strangers. looking forward to part 2.

Beck said...

Without that societal cushion, life is just nightmarishly vulnerable. THank goodness you had people to come to your rescue.

mamatulip said...

Wow. It's sad to say, but I'm not all that surprised it was so hard for you to find someone to help you.

A sad sign of the times.

Jennifer said...

It's the little things that can be such big, big things. In so many ways.

I'll be looking for Part II!

Lawyer Mama said...

I'm rather annoyed at the guy who didn't have time to help and the one who pretended not to understand. I always stop to help. Yes, sometimes I'm a bit suspicious. But I can't close myself off to others like that.

And I'm so impressed with the jumper cables in the car! I just thought about it & realized I don't have any in mine. I'll have to fix that.

KC said...

Me too-I had a flat tire and was alone in a grocery store parking lot in a rather upscale part of town - just happened to be there running errands. I can change a tire by myself but had some difficulty loosening some of the screws. People watched me struggle and no one would help. Able-bodied, well-off people just pretended not to see me. Had to call someone to help, it was disheartening.

thailandchani said...

I always carry AAA, just in case. When I was driving, the same situation presented itself far too many times. People coming up with unbelievable excuses as to why they couldn't help someone who is obviously not young and not all that healthy.

It's revolting!

As for your point about the homeless people, that is exactly how it happens. They run out of resources. (I know you already know that, of course. :)

Part II will be great.. whenever you feel up to it.


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

Aliki2006 said...

I often think about this--how lucky we are to have people to call. It really puts this in perspective.

urban-urchin said...

i help when it's at all possible. we blew a tire on the bay bridge coming home from my parents thanksgiving, when my daughter was 3 weeks old. thank god we had AAA because no one stopped. yes, sometimes people suck.

mitzh said...

People can be truly unbelievable at times. I think helping out strangers is the most nicest thing one could do.

Glad that you and your family got home safely.

Can't wait to read part 2.

Jocelyn said...

And this is just it, isn't it? It always boils down to each person being willing to find thoughtfulness and compassion, even in the most mundane moments.

I once had my alternator die when I was 24, all by myself in a new state, on my way to moving to a new town late on a Sunday afternoon. A barefoot man with a chatty wife fixed it--jerry-rigging it with, seriously, a pop can top (that little piece that we use to push the tab down). It's been 16 years since his moment of kindness.

Have I forgotten?

blooming desertpea said...

It's appalling that no one would help you, especially since it was obvious what kind of help you needed.

Are people afraid of helping because of all the bad things that have happened when one tried to help?

Christine said...

i am just so sad that no stranger would help. well, that one person did and it is great they tried. a friend just told me that a neighbor they hardly knew brought a big bag a veggies from thier garden yesterday. she was still in awe that a relative stranger would do a kind thing like that. i like to be shocked by the horrible things in the world and simply happy about the good. does that makes sense? i WANT to expect good things from others. always.

jennifer said...

I've been on the receiving end of stranger's help many times in my life, and when I try to imagine where I would be today without it, it's almost scary.
I love reading your blog. You always have the ability to delve into everyday moments in such a profound way.

Mad Hatter said...

You always have that lens on, Jen. Always. I'm looking forward to part 2.

Kyla said...

It is so sad that no one seems to have time to extend a hand anymore. If you can't do it yourself, you're shit out of luck. Very sad.

Ally said...

I'm looking forward to part 2 as well.

It is interesting how easily any one of us can end up homeless, even if for a few hours or the night. And how scary it would be.

Carrie said...

It's a sad reality indeed. True, we need enough resources to stay on with our lives since it's clear that we can't rely on strangers for help.

Susanne said...

In recent years I have started to go from the one never looking and never helping to the one who looked and cared. I'm still not there yet but I'm following the example my husband sets and try to keep in mind the many occasions where somebody helped me.

Danni said...

True. Helpful strangers are in short supply these days.
I think it's a good thing that there was someone who actually tried to help.