As I pulled up to the intersection where the car sat with its flashers on I thought about pulling around like everyone else. After all I was already late to pick up my son from school. But as I turned on my blinker and began to turn the wheel I decided not to. I took a look at the car and decided that I could probably moved the little Hyundai myself. She was crying in the front seat of her car when I knocked on the window and asked if I could help. She was probably 17. “It does this all the time” she said. “Do you mind if I help you get it off the road?” I asked. She just nodded.
She didn’t even offer to help or try and get out of the car. I told her to just steer the car into the parking lot closest to us and I’d push. It didn’t take much effort and even in my dress clothes I had it rolling, but she wasn’t steering. I thought at first she just wasn’t strong enough since the power steering wasn’t working either. After the third try however, I realized she didn’t even have the keys in the ignition and the steering wheel was locked. I smiled and reached around her, and turned the key slightly to unlock the wheel. When I looked back to the rear of the car to push again there were three other men standing there with hands on the trunk.
As we rolled the car into a parking spot and she put the parking break on, she looked at me with a smile that says what a simple thank you can’t. As I walked away with the other gentlemen, one man stayed behind. His buddy told me he’s a mechanic and would see if he could help a little more. What struck me though was what he said next. “We were just going to pull around to get through the light till we saw you trying to push it.” Even as I got back in my own car and turned off the flashers, two people cut me off trying to get that extra 10 feet closer to their destination.
As I drove to get my son I had a sense of joy come over me. One that is very different from when you sign up to work at the homeless shelter with your church. It’s different doing a scheduled good deed and performing a random act of kindness for a stranger at your own expense. I remembered all the times I had pushed my own car off the road in high school and how embarrassed I was. Then the thought occurred to me, “I wonder how long she would have sat there and no one help if I hadn’t stopped?”
I’ve experienced this so many times in my life where I’m afraid to do the good deed. Pick up the hitchhiker, help the guy change his tire, or help an old lady with her groceries. There’s always an excuse: I’m probably not going where he needs, he’s a guy he can change his own tire, or she could think I’m trying to rob her. In a world so skeptical, we err on the side of not doing anything for fear of lawsuits or inconveniences.
So many times it just takes one person to show others it’s okay to be a Good Samaritan. To show that life isn’t so busy that we can’t care for others around us. Even Good Samaritans needs inspiration sometimes. They need to see that a helpful spirit and a friendly smile are still welcome in this world. Good deeds and the joy that comes with them is contagious.
In the grand scheme of things the extra 5 minutes my son waited didn’t change his day. But I like to think that 5 minutes changed that young girls life and made an impact on the other people inspired to be a Good Samaritan.