The elderly gentleman in the rusted, old truck next to my car had thick eyeglasses and a frown decorating his face. He glanced at me as I left the veterinarian clinic. Our vehicles were parked next to each other in the shopping center lot. I put my cat, Spike, in the passenger seat of my car, and as I walked around to get in the driver seat, I heard the old
man’s engine make some noise but fail to start.
I had started my car and was ready to pull away but decided to see if I could help. After all, it was a blistering hot day. I couldn’t imagine leaving him stranded in an old truck with no AC.
I got out of my car, walked over to him and knocked on his window. He didn’t respond right away, so I knocked again thinking maybe he didn’t hear me the first time. He turned and looked at me, then opened his door.
“Do you need a jump?” I asked.
“Yes. I think I do,” he said. “That would be great.”
I maneuvered my car so the batteries were as close as I could get them to each other with the small space I had to work with, pulled out my cables, and gave them to him to hook to his truck battery. It only took about 20 seconds for his truck to get enough juice to start, and his engine revved to life.
Though the entire process didn’t take very long, it was hot enough that we were both sweating. Since I had a cat and groceries in the car, I wasted no time bidding him a friendly farewell. He said thank you more than once as I placed the cables back in my trunk.
With a “you’re welcome,” I turned to get back in my car, and I noticed a gentleman working in one of the stores watching us and smiling. I smiled back, and as I drove away, a few thoughts ran through my head.
How long would he have sat there, stranded, before asking someone for help?
He looked at me before I knew he was having trouble, but he didn’t stop me to ask if I had cables. Maybe I didn’t look like the type of person who would have an emergency car kit in my trunk - prepared for a break down. It reminds me not to judge people on appearance alone. I learned that lesson years ago when I was a new sales rep. You never know who is going to buy and who isn’t. You should do your best job, treat everyone great, and let the customer decide. I had many clients surprise me when they bought larger orders than I would have expected based on appearance alone. I also had clients that appeared to be very well off not buy at all. A purchase is usually not about money; it’s about the value one places in a product or service, so do a great job and don’t judge prospects. The elderly man should have just asked me if I had jumper cables. If I didn’t, he’d have been no worse off. If I did, he would have found his solution.
Help others, even if when it’s not super convenient for you.
It was not an ideal time for me to be out in the sun on a hot day. I wasn’t dressed for it, since I had thrown jeans on that morning, which were sticking to me by the end of our rendezvous. I had groceries in the car that needed to be refrigerated. My cat, who hates riding in the car, was meowing a storm of protests. Also, since I hadn’t eaten much yet that day, I was hungry and low on energy. However, when I heard his truck not turning over, none of that mattered. If you’ve been stranded in a broken-down vehicle before, you know that it is worse than any of the smaller discomforts I had from not getting home sooner. Giving up a few minutes of my time, and giving up being dry, was a small price to pay to save an older man from possibly hours of misery.
DOING good makes you FEEL good.
I know I didn’t do much. I’m not expecting a medal of valor for giving someone’s dead battery some vigor. I hesitated to even write about it, because it’s barely noteworthy. It does remind me, though, how good it feels to help another person. I left with a smile and a lighter heart, and that is noteworthy. I didn’t ask his name. I didn’t give him mine. He can’t even give me credit when sharing the experience with others, because he doesn’t know who I am. The only benefit to me is knowing in a world of good and bad, I put a put a grain of sand on the good side of the scales today. And that is enough.