So I just took a drive over the neighborhood grocery store to get a few items. As I was parking, some guy with a bicycle next to a car on the other side of the parking lot divider tried to hail me. Initially, I just shook my head and waived him off, an unfortunate reflex, I suppose, from dealing with street people asking for money. But I immediately caught myself and thought, “Wait, don’t be a jerk. Maybe someone needs help.” Then I saw another guy at the car, holding what looked like a car battery charger and I asked him what was going on, and he said that his car wouldn’t start. Apparently the car batter charger wasn’t working. I said I might have jumper cables, he sounded enthused for the help. I immediately pulled around next to his car. I looked around for our cables, but couldn’t find them (apparently they were taken awhile ago when someone broke into our car). I rummaged around in the back of the car for about ten minutes (it gave me a good opportunity to clean up a bit), and finally told him I didn’t have the cables. To my surprise, he seemed genuinely content when he said, “Well, thanks for trying. It’s the thought that counts.” Like I said, he seemed friendly, despite his own unsolved problem, which he was clearly trying to solve, and deapite the fact that I hadn’t been much help.
At around this time, the other guy, with the bike, came back and said he had found someone else with cables. I offered to scooch out of the way so that the other guy could park and try to get this guy’s car to start. As I re-parked, the driver continued being cheerful and pleasant, despite what was certainly a very unpleasant situation. As I walked into the store to get my things, another car pulled up.
When I returned, I saw a set of jumper cables attached between the two cars. I quizzed the driver, and he said it still wasn’t working. He thought it might have something to do with the alarm, that might have shut the car off. Of course, me knowing very little about cars, could offer no help. Apparently, things just weren’t going well for this guy. And yet, here was this other guy, who apparently had his family in his car and yet still was offering help, without complaint.
I regret that I wasn’t able to help the guy, but as I drove away, I was struck by this guy’s positive attitude. He made it easy to want to help him, in so far as we could help. And while I wasn’t able to do much for the guy, I felt that he did something for me by simply being friendly. Sometimes people can be surly over much lesser situations. And yet, in this world filled with people, I think this guy had the right idea. People will try to help you, and sometimes they may fail, sometimes they may succeed. But when you appreciate them for what they are trying to do, as he appreciated me, it actually makes a difference.
I hope his luck turns around and he gets his car going. Seems to me it’s only a matter of time until his circumstance catches up to his attitude.