Monday, November 7, 2016

"Helping People"

Apology:  I can’t write this – at least the first part of it – without making myself look good.  But don’t worry.  By the end, I will be my old reliably crotchety self. 

Just a confessional “heads up.” 

And here we go.

I once helped a stranger.

Here’s how it happened.

I am a few minutes early for my piano lesson, and while I am parking my car, I notice, across the street, an older man – older than I am, a demographic that is continually diminishing – struggling with his empty trash cans, which he is about to push up a precipitously steep driveway.

I get out of my car and I cross the street, asking the venerable gentleman, “Would you like some help?”  Being proud – the way old people are when you offer to help them with something they unquestionably need help with – the man angrily turns me down. 

For some reason, I feel persistent.  Maybe because it’s embarrassing to cross the street to help someone who tells you summarily – as the English say – to piss off.

Or maybe it’s because I’m old, I know the guy needs assistance, and I sincerely want to pitch in.

Unwilling to let this pass, I explain to him flatly,

“Listen, I’ve got two minutes before my piano lesson.  And I am offering to help.”

That was sensitive, wasn’t it?  I mean, I could have said, “I crossed the street to give you a hand, God dammit!  What the fuck’s the matter with you?”

But I didn’t.  Which, even without helping, makes me an admirable human being, don’t you think?

Anyway, the guy ultimately relents, surrendering one of his trashcans.  

I do not recall a “Thank you.”  But like the Lone Ranger, I do not require a “Thank you.”  As the masked man repeatedly explained, “My thanks is that justice has been done.”  And then he rides off (accompanied by his faithful Indian companion Tonto) into the sunset, which in my case was the less majestic “Then I re-crossed the street and went into my piano teacher’s house.”

Long story short – although it may be too late –

I helped a guy.

So I understand the impulse.

But here’s where I make my “turn.”

I know that helping an old guy push trashcans up his driveway does not make me Father Teresa.  The thing is…

I don’t want to be Father Teresa.  More to the point – although I may be rationalizing the reality of my infrequently helping anyone – I don’t need to be Father Teresa.

Continuing my “turn”…

I see these attorneys, defending “hit men”, serial killers and suspected terrorists, jumping in to help people the majority of us would say – doubling up on a word rarely used in these postings – “Fuck ‘em!”  Fairly or otherwise, I am skeptical of their impulse to defend vermin.

The attorneys’ response is the inevitable,

“Everyone is constitutionally entitled to legal representation.”

To which I reply – primarily in my mind, but once in life when I was introduced to a “Mob Lawyer” at a gathering,

“Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be you.”

To which their “go-to” counter-response is,

“What if everyone felt that way?”

To which my imagined counter-response is,

“Wait till it gets close.  Then you can jump in.”

The thing is, they jump in right away.  Making me wonder if there is more in it for them than just “helping.”

Which takes me to where I was always intending to go:

Running for president of the United States.

The standard explanation for which is:

“I want to help people.” 


One candidate (“I want to be your champion”) as far as I can tell has never helped anyone in his entire life.  The man seems to see the American presidency as a “Trophy Job.”  Something he can brag about to hot babes.

“Believe me, I’m the president.  No, this isn’t a ‘line.’  Knock on the door of the White House and I’ll answer it.  Well, I won’t answer it myself, but when the guy I pay to answer it says, “There’s a young woman at the door” and I say, “What’s she like?” and he says, ‘She’s a Ten’, I’ll come right down.  You’ll be surprised how fast I’ll be there.”

His motives are understandable, albeit Light Years from “socially acceptable.”  He’s not really a part of this story.  I only include him ‘cause he’s one of the presidential candidates.  And because it’s fun.

The other candidate – when she wasn’t acting like an attorney and I have already covered that ground – seems to have helped people all her life.  But still, I don’t really get it.

Maybe it’s like an addiction and there’s this progressive “tolerance” issue, where you begin helping a few people and end up needing to help everyone.  Which, when you are president, theoretically at least, you can.

The thing is…

I helped a guy with his trashcans and that was enough for me.

Why isn’t it enough for her?

Okay, what I did was minimal… although still very nice.  But between trashcan helper and being President of the United States, there is a lot of room for providing service to others.  Think of all the dedicated people in this country who sacrifice money, time and personal comfort in exchange for significantly helping people.

I get suspicious when someone needs to be president so they can “help people” even more than that

Which leads me to wonder,

“What the heck else is going on?”

1 comment:

Stephen Marks said...

Shit, the part about crossing the street to help then being rejected is no different then crossing a bar to ask a girl to dance and being shot down. You're fucked, you don't want to turn around and walk back dejected and embarrassed, especially in front of friends, so you stay and try and make small talk or force the issue like you did. It happened to me once and I vowed never again, so I've never danced. Now I'll never lift a stranger's trash cans.