Archives of Our Lives

{a narrow and broad look into the lives of people I love}

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Who I Am...

I have a confession. It goes like this:

Yesterday I was on my way home from running a few errands by myself. I was driving through a neighborhood only a street away from my own, and I noticed a shiny black car/truck on the right hand side of the street, struggling to get out of a snow drift. (It was one of those new Chevy vehicles that can't decide if it wants to be a car or a truck. Like this:)

There was a middle-aged woman driving, and as I passed by, I watched her switch the vehicle from Drive into Reverse, spinning her wheels more and more into the snow each time. I slowed down and thought, "I should get out and help her."

...and then I kept on driving...

The strange thing was, I didn't really have a reason not to stop. It's not like I thought, "Well, I'm wearing nice shoes today," (which I was) or "She'll probably get it figured out," or "She doesn't really need my help." I didn't think any of those things. I just...didn't stop.

In the time it took me to get to the end of the poor lady's street and turn left onto my own street, I had become exceedingly wracked with guilt--I'm talking, really seriously wracked...

"Random acts of kindness are seldom convenient," I thought, and "She would probably appreciate the help."

"It's Christmas time," and "What would Jesus do?" and the story of that Darn Good Samaritan all flooded into my brain before I could say "Scrooge". I knew very well I was not raised to be the kind of person who keeps on driving. There have been so many times I've seen people parked at the side of the highway and I've said to Kyle, "Should we help them?" He usually replies with something like, "I'm sure they're fine...everyone has cell phones these days. Plus, there's not even anyone by the car! If they needed help, they would be flagging us down."

I've filled my brain so full of similar excuses as to why I shouldn't be a helpful person, that I don't even need those excuses anymore--I just...don't help people.

All this was spinning around in my head like a flurry of snowflakes, and by that time I'd passed my house and made the necessary two turns to get back to the Damsel in Distress. (It had only been maybe 30 seconds since my initial drive-by.) But by the time I got there, two other vehicles had already stopped. There were now four adults pushing from the back, but they'd made no progress. I was so anxious to make up for what I'd done 30 seconds before that I rolled through a stop sign so I could hurry and park my car. I jumped out and plowed through the snowdrift (in my good shoes) to make it to the back of that black vehicle--I really thought that if I could inch my way in among the other four people at that bumper, and offer a good hard push, then I could forget about how I'd not stopped in the first place.

I was a few steps away--maybe three or four--when the good people pushing her truck gave one final heave and loosed her from the clutches of the ice and slush. I stood there, defeated, and as she drove away, she waved out the window, saying, "Thank you all so much! I really appreciate your help!"

But she wasn't talking to me...

I am not saying that it's Kyle's fault I didn't stop--he wasn't even there! He is a good person--a hard worker--and if he really saw a true need, he would do anything he could to help someone in despair. The fault is completely my own, and since yesterday afternoon, I have put a lot of thought into why I didn't stop that first time around. I still don't know the reason, but I can guarantee one thing: I will never again let myself be talked out of offering to help when I see a need for it. Because really, what's the harm in offering to help someone who might not need it? What would they say? "No thanks, I'm fine." Well, I can handle that. I can tolerate making a slight spectacle of myself if there is the potential of good to come of it.

I'm sure it sounds a bit cheesy, or deep, or like I'm "waxing too poetic," but this is what I've decided...and it's going to become part of what makes me me. Laugh if you want, but...

...I don't think I'll ever forget how it felt to stand there and know that woman wasn't talking to me.

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Blogger Raygon said...

So honest, Camille. I love this post.

December 20, 2007 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I read a blog called serving the queens that just wrote a similar post.

I never stop because I think that roadkill on the highway would be more useful to them than I would.

Plus, I never stop alone. Even when it is a girl. NEVER.

The world is just too scary.

December 20, 2007 at 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is interesting. I've given this much thought in the past. If I saw someone in need of help I would have IMMEDIATELY stopped... IN ILLINOIS. But, now that I am in Phoenix I'm not so sure I would. It is a much scarier world out here. It makes me sad to think I wouldn't do the right thing because of the cruelty of a few people. You tried to do the right thing in the end you can feel good about that! ~A

December 20, 2007 at 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This touched me! You are growing into the person I imagined and dreamed that you would someday be. You made your old mom cry. You have so much to offer to so many. I think I;ll write you an e mail. I love you very much and I love your self-realization and dicovery of your divine, inherit worth. MA

December 20, 2007 at 9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Millie. Perhaps it's just pregnancy hormones taking their toll yet again, but this really, really touched me. One of the signs of a really strong writer is someone who can stop, make you think, and truly re-evaluate your life. This post did this to me, and I thank you for the food for thought regarding self evaluation. This really made me think about my own life, and seriously almost brought a tear to my eye. This is...what's the word? Poignant? Longing? Nostalgic? Better-sweet? Regretful? I'm still not sure. At any rate, it gave cause for some serious thought and reflection. Thanks. (By the way, whenever you use quotation marks, ALWAYS put your punctuation INSIDE the aforementioned quotes. I.e.: "I went to the store".= INCORRECT "I went to the store." = CORRECT)

December 21, 2007 at 6:31 AM  

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