Today I thought, what the hell? It’s a nice day and the dog is looking lazy, so I’ll just head out for a solo three miles or so. I hadn’t gone five blocks before I tripped and fell down. I skinned both palms and both knees, and now there’s a little twinge in my upper thigh that might bloom into something more over the next day or so.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that I bounced right up and kept on going. The thing is, there were a couple of women talking on a porch not far away, and I was hoping to preserve some semblance of dignity. Nothing to see here, ladies! Just a few scrapes! Everything’s great! As you were!
About a mile later I decided to walk, thinking that my overall fitness had slipped a bit in the past few years. An older guy walking down the street in the opposite direction yelled to ask if I could give him a jump. I wasn’t sure I’d heard right. I’m thinking: I’m on foot here, man, and as you can see, still bleeding a little. But it came out that his Honda civic was a couple of blocks away and refusing to turn over. His wife was there waiting. He said he’d give me some money if I could bring my car and jumper cables.
Finally I agreed, making sure he understood that I’d have to walk the mile back to my house first. It might take awhile, I said. He said he’d wait.
I walked/jogged back the way I’d come, thinking that it would be very easy to just blow the guy off and continue my star-crossed attempt at exercise in a different neighborhood. Certainly we’d never see each other again. But that’s not how I roll. I made it back to his car half an hour later, and he didn’t seem stunned or overcome with joy that I’d kept my promise. He just expected it. We hooked up the jumper cables and his little Civic started right up.
“I’d still like to give you some money,” the guy said. “Even five dollars?”
I waved a hand. “Nah, I don’t want any money. Maybe you can do a favor for somebody else down the line.” Kind of theatrical, I know, but suddenly I was feeling like Mahatma Gandhi. Never mind my earlier reluctance.
He thanked me again and bade me Happy New Year and got in his car. I waved at his wife. She waved back kind of glumly. I sensed she was imagining the kind of life where one owns a car that starts every time.
So now I’m sitting here with four points of minor pain and wondering why it feels so good to help out somebody in need. I’m not sure. It does though, doesn’t it? You get out of the house and incur some personal injuries and still summon the bonhomie to go right ahead and get somebody out of a jam. I’m really quite a guy. I don’t feel like that very often, so I might as well enjoy it.