Monday, November 15, 2010

Helping Hands

Good and decent people believe in helping one another. We do it because we know what it’s like to need a helping hand. We do it because we hope, that if we were in need, someone would help us. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Last week, as I rushed from errand to errand, I ran out of gas. Ironically, my next stop was the gas station. As I waited for AAA several people stopped and asked me if I needed help. For many of us, helping is in our nature.

Recently a good friend of mine extended a helping hand to someone and he ended up getting that hand burned. He had made a casual acquaintance of a guy he’d see often at the track. Through their conversations, he learned that this guy, in his early 20’s needed a break. He was living with his girlfriend, who was expecting their child. Due to a few bad choices, he had a hard time finding a job and he really needed one.

My friend, who had been on his job for three years, recommended him for an open position. It wasn’t much but it was steady work. After one week on the job, he’d already been late twice. The second week, he was a no cal, no show. Both my friend and his manager talked to him and tried to impress on him the importance of showing up and being on time. The third week seemed to be better. However, it didn’t last. By week four he was back to his old way. And then, then a cell phone for one of the visiting executives came up missing. All signs pointed to the new guy as the thief. It turned out that he had stolen the phone and he was promptly fired.

My friend is embarrassed and angry. Embarrassed because the guy was hired in large part due to his recommendation and now he looks bad. Angry because this guy took advantage of his trust and made him look bad to his boss. My friend says he’ll think twice before he sticks his neck out again.

And he should … but I do hope that this experience doesn’t turn him off to helping people all together. The lesson here isn’t that sticking your neck out for someone is wrong. The lesson is to get to know the person a little bit better first.

Community is about people working together and I feel that compassion is a vital part of community and a part that is too often missing. I’ve heard it said that all that is necessary for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.

We must be willing to do something.

It’s funny but after AAA showed up, I made a bee line to the gas station. As I was getting out of my car, a woman asked me for $3. She was unemployed and having trouble making ends meet. Her mother had agreed to loan her some money and she was on her way to her mom’s house but she didn’t think she had enough gas to make it there. I smiled and told her I knew what she was going through and I gave her $5. Hopefully, she’ll do the same for someone else.

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