Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good deed of the day

It has been snowing all day today. Which, in the Portland Metro Area, means that very few people know what to do, I guess.

While I was at the post office/gas station (yes, it's both) today, a woman came in asking if anyone had a jack so she could get the chains off her car. I told her that I didn't have a jack, but that I couldn't imagine that she needed one and I would come out and take a look.

It turned out that some guy had tried to help her when one of her chains broke by telling her to drive back and forth. This had actually succeeded in causing her to drive on the wrong parts of the chains and had smashed one of the catches so it couldn't be opened correctly.

It was something I managed to fix after laying in the slush, pushing my head under the car, and working at it for a while. Then I worked on the other side, which eventually required that I borrow some pliers so I could break a clasp on the chain. When I was done the woman and her kids happily drove away.

One of the gas station workers looked at me in surprise when I brought the pliers back in and the woman drove away. "Weren't you with that lady?" she asked.

"No," I said. "I was just here and she needed some help."

Suddenly I was a hero. The gas station lady offered me free food or coffee or something to warm me up. But I told her that wasn't necessary, of course. I was just a little ways from home.

I thought about this as I drove home. If that had been my family with the broken chains I would have just been doing my duty. It's expected that you take care of your family. But if you treat some other member of the human race like family, suddenly you're a hero. That's a sad commentary on us as a people, I guess.

I started thinking about rewards... being thought of as a hero, free coffee, et cetera, and I realized I don't really need those, either. I have my own house, where I can warm up and take a hot shower after submerging myself in icy slush. I had a loving wife waiting for me, and kids on a special outing with their heavily involved and generous grandparents. I have a good relationship with the creator of the universe, too, let's not forget that. I have all the rewards I need right here in my little corner of the world. I think I can treat others with respect just so their world can be a little better, too.

Plus, it's snowing. It's beautiful outside. It's a beautiful, wonderful night. Merry Christmas, everybody.