Getting By.

Some days I drive to work. It’s a nice change because I can decide when to leave and when to arrive–more or less, since timing depends on traffic. Sometimes I get stuck behind a bus and have to stop and start which I know annoys most people but not me. Within a block or two it’s possible to pass the bus and I always figure that most other days it’ll be me on the bus, annoying some other driver, but that’s another story.
The other day as I came out of the parking garage I turned right into a long line of cars waiting to move. I could see the green light at the intersection so I couldn’t figure out why everybody’d stopped. Then gradually I could see the cars ahead pull into the left lane and go around a car that was stopped, and I was annoyed. What was the problem? Probably somebody looking at their phone, I thought, oblivious to the traffic around them. Then I moved up into position and I could see the stopped car was an old pickup truck. It wasn’t old in a cool, eccentric way, like an early model Ford or even the truck that Lamont drives around on Sanford & Son. No, this truck was ten or maybe fifteen years old, which is old since newer vehicles aren’t really built to last, and it had been rode hard and put up wet. There were holes in it and large rusty spots and the rear gate was held in place with duct tape. And I saw the driver: white hair, deeply lined face, and he was looking around anxiously.
As soon as I was through the intersection I pulled into a parking lot and stopped. My plan was to go and offer the guy some help, maybe give him a hand schlepping his truck into a spot where it wouldn’t block traffic. Maybe I could give him a lift, or at least help him call someone. Mostly I wanted to help because it was the right thing to do. We were next to the Vanderbilt hospital where he was either an outpatient or visiting someone. I could only hope that medically his news had been good but vehicularly I knew the prognosis wasn’t good. And if there’s one thing a lifetime of reading fairy tales and myths has taught me it’s never to pass up a chance to do a good deed. You never know when the help you extend to a stranger is going to come back around to you and even if it doesn’t, well, like I said, it’s just the right thing to do.
By the time I parked and the light had changed so I could cross the intersection a phalanx of garage security guys had surrounded the truck and they were all helping move it along. The old man stood on the sidewalk talking into a phone. I hurried back to my car before one of the security guys could notice that I was parked in some doctor’s reserved spot and decided to ticket me, although I hoped that if that did happen he’d let me explain the situation and would agree that giving me a free pass in this case was just the right thing to do.

10 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    I hope if something like that ever happens to me, that someone like you will be around!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d try to be around but that would be stalking. Maybe though I’ve passed on a general message that helping others is just the right thing to do.

      Reply
  2. Red

    You’re a good person. Usually, I think in terms of the problems my additional stopping might cause. I married a guy who, like you, stops to help, and one time as we were driving along the interstate, a kayak fell off the roof of a car a few vehicles ahead of us. Cars were swerving to get around, and I probably would have been one of them.
    My husband instead slowed down to pull over. By the time we were behind the kayak (but on the shoulder), another car had pulled in front, and Brett and the other driver together pulled the kayak out of traffic and onto the shoulder.
    I would have been concerned about my messing up traffic even more. But I think his response was better.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s really tough if you’re driving at high speed and something happens to try and figure out whether you even can pull over and help, much less whether you should. So it’s good that Brett was able to help in that situation but sometimes you just can’t without putting yourself and others at risk.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    I saw one of those purple buses this morning, and I was taken aback. A few minutes later, I saw one wrapped with an ad for one of the law firms in town – the ambulance chaser type – and the motif was very 1980s. Kitsch.
    Once we had some folks from other offices in town, and as we were coming back from dinner, saw a homeless man get clipped by a car taking a left onto Church too quickly.

    One guy in the car hopped out to check on him. I drove the car to the first place I could park, and we waited til the ambulance came. Apparently, this was not the first such incident for that gentleman.

    Then we all walked back to the car, parked at the Hustler store, and I took the guys back to their hotel. They all told my manager I had taken them to Hustler. They came clean, thankfully.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I haven’t seen one of the purple buses yet. I have seen the kitschy ’80’s ambulance-chaser lawyer bus–in fact I’ve probably even ridden on it.
      That’s really sad about the homeless guy–there are too many stories like that around–but on the bright side the folks from out of town got to go to the Hustler store. Yeah, actually I guess that’s not really a bright side.

      Reply
  4. Grace

    Because it’s the right thing to do. Exactly!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If there’s one thing I always believe in doing it’s the right thing, at least as long as it doesn’t take me too far out of my way.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Reading your blog is always the right thing to do, Chris. I can’t imagine getting by without it. Thank you for doing the right thing, as always.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Leaving a positive and entertaining comment is also the right thing to do and I’m always glad when you do. It helps me get by.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: