Forced to Help
by Matthew Rupert
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All I wanted from the day was to be lazy, but unfortunately I had errands to run and places to be. I wondered whether I would be home in time to see The Simpsons. I typically call Sundays "family day," but they often end up being "me day."
As often happens in the fall, when the weather turns cold, the pressure in my tires had dropped and I needed to go to the gas station and correct the problem.
I became annoyed when I pulled into the gas station, seeing a woman pathetically trying to put air in her tires. "Who does she think she is?" I wondered, becoming frustrated that this individual had taken 'my' spot at the air hose.
The woman fumbled with the air hose again and again. She pressed the nozzle to her tire valve. Nothing happened. She looked to be as confused as I was angry.
"Doesn't this lady have a clue?" I wondered, as I observed that she didn't even have a tire
pressure gauge. She continued to stumble around her car for what seemed to be an eternity, although it was probably only a couple of minutes. She seemed nervous that there was now a line of cars waiting to use the air hose, yet she was no closer to solving her problem.
Annoyed and angry, I got out of my car and walked over to her, prepared to be rude yet helpful, in an effort to get her out of the way so that I may get back to my own life. I thought about what I might say as I approached. Benevolence was the last
thing on my mind. I wanted this lady to know that she should never have been parked there fumbling around. That air hose is for people who know what they are doing!
Then it happened--her smile hit me like a ton of bricks. My attitude change was immediate.
"Oh thank you!" she said, assuming that some kind man intended to help her, "Someone told me my tire was low and I don't know what to do!"
Low? Her tire was beyond low: It was dangerous. There was probably 5psi in it!
Suddenly my shame changed to machismo, as I became a proud savior. I quickly realized why no air was going into her tire: She didnít press the big red button that turns the air compressor on. "You have to press this thing." I said, asserting my manly ability to turn on an air hose. In a deep voice a said, "Iíll go back to my car and get my tire pressure gauge." What a man I am! I have a tire pressure gauge in my glove compartment! I thought about how impressed this woman must be by my manliness.
Soon I was checking all of the woman's tires, each of which was low. "Yup," I grunted, "thisun's low too." The woman continually thanked me throughout, telling me she had no idea what to do. It was clear that she had nobody to help and no idea how correct the problem.
When finished, I peered at her like Clint Eastwood, "Now dat ain't normal for a tire to get so low. Ya need to take dis thing in and get 'er checked out. Looks like a slow leak.Ē My arms elevated slightly from my sides as my biceps suddenly felt very large.
"Thank you!" she exclaimed, "You are so kind. You have made my day!"
"No problem, miss. Have a nice day!"
It feels good to be a hero! "I sure am a nice guy" I thought. Heck, in all of my pride I may have said it aloud. With a shake of the head I was on my way. "Who but a Christian man like me would be so generous?" I wondered.
Feeling satisfied, I strutted back to my car. Once there I recalled my anger. In a most greedy manner, I had categorized this woman in need as a mere imbecile who was in my way. My pride changed to shame. I didn't go to help a woman, rather, I went to help myself.
My shame deepened as I thought about my mother, and how she would be equally confused given the same circumstances. I thought about my wife, who has never had to put air in her tires. Her father or I have always taken care of her car. She wouldn't know what to do if she had to! By being angry with this helpless woman, I was angry with my mom and my wife.
Suddenly my biceps didn't feel so large. Now who's pathetic?
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