I got very irritated last week while I was driving.
Nothing new there except this time I was upset with myself.
I didn’t break the law or do anything dangerous,but I also didn’t stop to see if an elderly couple needed help.
The incident occurred just after I pulled onto a motorway in central England and I didn’t see the stopped car on the side of the road until I was accelerating into the middle lane.
There were speeding vehicles behind and to the left of me so it would have been difficult to get to the shoulder safely and stop in less thana few hundred metres, so I just kept driving.
The couple may have stopped for a rest or to change drivers and one of them probably had a phone to call for help if they needed it… or maybe someone else stopped.
All the same, my failure to check that they were okay bothered me.
The interesting thing, though, is that I don’t think I just wanted to be more unselfish.
The incident reminded me of all the times drivers had stopped to see if I was okay when I pulled over in Botswana and the times I stopped to help others, and when I thought about those occasions, I felt like I had cheated myself.
You see, I like to help others, it makes me feel good,and from what a friend who works at a doctors’ office tells me, I am not alone on that score.
Sal says she almost always sees positive results when she asks people who are queueing at reception to help elderly or disabled patients by opening a door or assisting them to the lift.
“They don’t think to do it themselves very often, but when asked they seem really happy to assist. I suppose it takes their minds off their own problems and they usually get a smile and a thank you from the people they help. Just seeing that cheers me up and I think it has the same effect on everyone else in the room.”
Fortunately for me, the day after I dove past the couple on the side of the road, I came across another traveller who needed help.
This time it was a man in his 20s who had a blow-out in the front tyre of his bicycle while he was pedalling to work.
I was carrying my bike on a rack at the back of my car and he must have noticed it because as I approached he started making hand signals that indicated he needed a bicycle pump.
I had one of those as well, but his inner tube was beyond repair so we loaded his bike onto the rack and I drove him to work.
Helping a fit young person may not be as important as aiding a couple of oldies, but it was a lot safer to pull over for the cyclist and I think helping him made both of us feel better.
I decided to share these tales because as my friend said, we often get so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t see others have problems as well… and because when we take the time to help them, we also help ourselves.