I’ve said before that I”m not comfortable asking for help. I grew up watching my mother who was always in control – even, and especially when she wasn’t. I guess some of that sunk in strangely because now I have problems posing even the most simple requests. This week was certainly a lesson in humility and grace when it comes to asking for and accepting help.
The other evening, on my way home from running a few errands, I heard a strange noise outside my window. The tire beneath me went flat. It wasn’t a loud explosion that would have resulted in disastrous fear, just an odd flapping noise. I pulled over on to the shoulder and stuck my head out of the window to investigate. I was immediately grateful for two things: 1) that the videos I’ve seen of people loosing control of their vehicles when something like this happens, didn’t play out just then. I didn’t have to fight to keep from careening into traffic. 2) There was a shoulder to escape to. I also have a serious fear of guardrails and construction barriers for just this reason.
As I sat there trying to get my thoughts together my greatest concern was that I was still a few miles from home, too far to walk, Josh was by himself, and it would be dark soon. I don’t really know how to change a tire, didn’t think I actually had a spare (turns out the doughnut type that comes with the car was actually hidden away underneath the vehicle, but I wouldn’t have found it by myself anyway) and I had no idea who to call for help. There are very few numbers in my cell phone, maybe a dozen. Most of those are connected to people and places hundreds of miles away.
Within a few minutes a car pulled up behind me and a woman wearing a beautiful fuchsia blouse stepped out of the passenger seat, “Darlin’ do you need some help?” she asked. I almost burst into tears right then. She went on to say that they had driven past once already and she saw me fidgeting around outside the car. As they went by, she turned to her husband who was driving and said “She’s by herself!” The man had spent the day mowing the grass for someone else. He was no doubt hot, tired, and ready to get home and relax. Instead, they wholehearted jumped into my situation to help. I explained to the elegant Southern lady how my main concern was for my son who was home alone and expecting me to be back by now. I couldn’t just call and explain the situation to him (that’s another long story). “Don’t worry, we’re hear now. We’ll help.” She couldn’t possibly understand how powerful her words were.
After attempting to right the rubber on it’s wheel with no success, the couple drove me, my groceries, and the flat tire home. It turns out that the man was familiar with the house, he used to make deliveries to my wonderful guardian angels who lived here before me. We exchanged names and phone numbers and they went on their way. When I got back to my computer the first thing I did was update my Facebook status:
With so much negativity going on around me, it’s almost shocking that good Samaritans do still exist. I imagine being somewhere else in a similar situation and sitting there for hours wishing someone would stop.
The next day, as my father-in-law and I tried to replace the defective tire we encountered some resistance. The position of the car, jack, and traffic whizzing past us without getting over in to the passing lane made it difficult for a woman who had no idea what she was doing and an elderly man whose best tire-changing days were long behind him. Again, decent people were compelled to stop and offer assistance. Two men, out enjoying the day on the lakes, boat in tow behind their pick-up truck, stopped on the opposite side of the dual-highway. The passenger got out and crossed the double lanes of traffic to lend a hand. He finished the job in a fraction of the time it would have taken us.
Sitting safely at home, crisis handled, safe once again in my own little self-made cocoon, I realized just how lucky I had been. My mind goes to places I’d rather not admit when thinking about the hundreds of things that could have been worse in this scenario. I’m also a true believer in the idea that things happen for a reason. There’s a lesson to be learned by every bad experience, if you only take the time to look for it. The lesson that I think I was supposed to learn (at least my impression for now) is that I have to work really hard on being able to ask for help and accept it graciously if I’m going to continue on my path towards growing The Road We’ve Shared. I also have to look for and surround myself with good people: they are out there, I just have to come out of my cave once in a while to find them.
To the four people who helped me learn this lesson, a heartfelt and sincere “Thank you.”
To everyone else – What have you learned from bad experiences? Do you look for the lesson in everyday events? Do you have someone who you call in a crisis and does that person know how grateful you are for them?