We live a little ways out in the country.
Usually, when someone makes it out this far, they have a reason for being here.
So, when a guy with tattoos all up and down his arms knocked at our door last night, it was pretty unusual.
“Hey…do you have any jumper cables? Our car broke down…”
I told him I’d help him…and went to find our cables.
It was a red Tercel…pretty beat up, full of personal belongings…sitting across the road from our house. There was a lady behind the wheel…and when we’d hooked up the cables, she turned the switch and the car started right up.
When we disconnected the cable, the car died.
” I think it’s probably your alternator”, I told them.
She asked me if I could drive them in to town if she gave me twenty dollars. I told them that I’d help them if I could …but that I didn’t need the twenty.
We’ve had a string of breakins in our area within the past week….something new out here…and just that evening there’d been a triple homicide in our town…so it was probably bad timing for them to ask me for help…but I told them to hold on and I’d drive them.
I went into the house to tell my wife what was going on. She was kind of freaked out…”We don’t even know these people…where are you going? Who are these people?”. I think that sometimes she is definitely the one with some common sense.
Anyway, to make a long story a little more bearable, it turned out that they wanted me to drive them down the watershed ( a bunch of miles of “two lane driving in the deep dark woods”…. of no streetlights and no houses ) to a town I’d never heard of…in the new darkness of a fading twilight.
Nahhhhhhh….I thought they wanted to go into Hendersonville. Forget that weirdness.
I wonder if they’d asked me to bring a shovel and my sharpest ax on the trip if I would have been so unthinkingly helpful?
Hopefully my survival instinct is more finely honed than that.
Anyway, we went back out, hooked the jumper cables up again, and let their car charge a little more… and I sent them on their way in the darkness.
It was all pretty darn sketchy, if you ask me.
But it got me thinking. It got me thinking a little bit…in addition to my amazement that I was just going to let these strangers, with their pillowcases of God knows what, get in my car so I could drive them who knows where in the darkness….it got me thinking when they were driving down the road how much my “charity” was just a desperate attempt to get these guys outside my orbit again.
It was a real comfort to see their car disappearing in the distance.
Sure…I wanted them to be alright. I’ve been stranded…broken down in some strange place…and the kindness of strangers made all the difference in how the situation played out.
But I also realized that most of my attempt to help these people was that I wanted these guys and their weird set of self propagated problems to just go away.
I don’t know how far down the road those two made it with that car…maybe I’ll pass them going to work…but last night, AWAY was far enough.
I was like a Good Samaritan yesterday evening…except in MY story, I’m the one who would be thinking, “Man…I am so sick of looking at you down in that ditch…let’s get you some help so I don’t have to think about you anymore.”
Not so noble when the truth comes out, is it?
image from here.