Monday, October 13, 2008

Maybe I Really Am A Nice Person

I actually had a different blog post in mind for today but felt the events of this morning were more prevalent.

I was driving home after leaving Greenville, listening to whatever random song my iPod was playing. I had just gotten into the Chapel Hill city limits when I notice the jeep about 60 yards ahead has turned its hazard lights on and is pulling off to the side.

With memories of my Nana teaching me to always help someone in need at the forefront of my mind, I pull off a bit behind them. The driver is a rather harried-looking woman in her early 30's. As she opens the door, I hear the sounds of a screaming baby.

I announce myself before asking if she needs help, I didn't want to scare the poor woman. She looks at me and I could see her eyes widen a bit and she starts looking around for something. The more cynical part of me thinks it was something to defend herself with from the potential mugger coming at her.

I ask her what's the problem and in heavily accented English, she tells me her tire has a flat and she was scared to drive on it with her son and daughter in the car. Around the word "drive" she slipped completely into Spanish. I tell her to hold on, in Spanish. It was like the fact I spoke the same language she did had a calming effect and she no longer visibly seemed intimidated by me. I go back to my car, pop the trunk, and come back with my spare tire.

We made small talk while I took off her old tire, there had been a tack in it, and replaced it. I found out she had been looking for a sign pointing towards UNC hospital as her sister was having a baby.

Once it's finished, I tell her to follow me and we'll take a way so as to avoid all the traffic. When we arrive at the main building 10 minutes later, she gets out and one hand is holding a cell phone to her ear while her other hand is holding that of a little boy, no older than 2, who is sucking his thumb. Holding his sleeve is a little girl of the same age clutching a Dora the Explorer doll. The woman ends her phone call and tells me that her sister would like to thank me.

Now I'm usually a pretty outgoing person but I do have moments of shyness. Especially if it's someone thanking me for something, worse if it's someone I do not actually know. Plus, I thought it would be awkward for me to meet a woman who had given birth in the wee hours of the morning and was now in recovery.

So it is with great trepidation that I follow her up to the recovery room. We get there and I let them go in ahead of me. Not even a minute had passed by when the woman poked her head out and told me her sister was asking about me.

I walked into her room and I see a woman who could not have been three years older than me lying in a bed. She seemed far too small to have just had a baby. She motions me over and takes my hand in both of hers. She thanks me for making sure her sister got here safely and quickly.

I tried to tell her that anyone would have done it.

She then gave me a disquieting piercing look and told me that not many would stop to help a stranger anymore. And many who would have ulterior motives for doing so. She then reached to her wrist and took off one of the rosary beads there.

I want you to have this. I want you to look at it and remember what you did today. Kindness to strangers isn't dead and you stand here as prove of that. The Good Samaritan. God Bless You.


I spent another 30 minutes with them. I found out their names and where they were from. I gave them mine. The younger sister even asked that I go to their church next Sunday.

Take something from this folks. It doesn't cost much if anything to do something for others. And often, it has its own rewards.

8 comments:

  1. single mom seekingOctober 13, 2008 at 8:19 PM

    Kendall, thank you, thank you... for being such an amazing human being. And for posting that incredible comment on my blog today.

    I just linked to you from my blog -- and I'm so glad that I followed your link to read the whole story here.

    Wow.

    With tears in my eyes. And goose bumps.

    I'm not kidding.

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  2. You are really nice person. Not many today would do all of what you did to help this lady. It was a really sweet thing to do and shows that you are really a nice guy!

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  3. Have you ever read a book by Dr Edward Hallowell called Human Moments? This post reminds me of that.

    Its unusual for people to help people nowadays, so many factors go against it and people are often scared of helping or accepting help as so much can go wrong or be construed as inappropriate.

    Eres el mejor ;-)

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  4. SMS - You're welcome. Like I said on your own blog, I didn't expect any strong reaction to this. Much less for you to link to me on the post. I actually blushed on that one.

    Tiff - It's funny that I still think I'm more of an asshole than a nice person.

    Lou-Lou - No I hadn't, but I intend to google it when I get home from work tonight. I know it's unusual for people to help but I have a problem with saying "no" most of the time. I'm the best? Muchas gracias mi amiga.

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  5. Wow! What a fantastic story...it's great to know there are kind people, still willing to help others.

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  6. Beautiful.

    The power of common language always gives me pause...I am a legal intern at our local Legal Aid office, and I am the only employee who can speak Spanish. I've been conferenced into several calls/meetings to interpret for attorneys and their clients. As if the legal system isn't intimidating enough, the person who is supposed to advocate on their behalf cannot speak their language. The gratitude by the clients is overwhelming...I know it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the relief of finding real communication. Unfortunately, our country is always supportive of the need for diversity of language.

    It's comforting to know that good souls like you are still around. That gives me hope for this planet.

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  7. Pants - Forgive me ma'am but I'm a wee bit starstruck right now. It's weird knowing that one of the first bloggers I ever read is commenting on mine.

    Katie - You represent the thought that "hey, I'm not helpless in this conversation." I am studying to be a grade school teacher and I remember how relieved they (my adviser and the principal of the school I teach at) were when they found out I was fluent in Spanish. I think everyone should know at least the basics of a foreign language but like you said, not really a priority in this country. It makes no sense that you are the only person who can speak it in a law office of all things.

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  8. I think most people are nice, but we're all scared for one reason or another. Scared to accept help (because of the aforementioned ulterior motives), or scared to offer it because someone might think we have ulterior motives.

    Kudos to you for having guts.

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