Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Case of the Stalled Subaru

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” ~Muhammad Ali

I truly believe in helping others, especially when I’m down, depressed, discouraged, or feeling sorry for myself.  The best thing I can do is reach out to others and think of their needs.  That’s not to say service is always appreciated or leaves you feeling good.  In fact, it can be downright frustrating.

Take for instance—The Case of the Stalled Subaru.

One windy afternoon, I got a call from a friend whose vehicle had stalled and then blown a tire on a major highway.  She had already arranged for a tow truck but needed someone to come haul her electric wheelchair home because it couldn’t remain on the lift on the back of her Subaru.

Although it was close to when I needed to pick up my kids from school, I rushed to help her.  While this wasn’t the freeway, people drove it at freeway speeds and trying to get off the side of the road and back on again was scary.  I pulled in behind her and felt my truck shake as cars whizzed by us.  Using her ramps, I managed to get the wheelchair loaded into the back of my truck. Not an easy feat.

The woman didn’t have much money so I started making calls to find an inexpensive used tire for her.  I located a shop some twenty miles away and told her I would be happy to pick it up for her and that I needed to go pick up my kids.

She insisted that I stay.  She expected me to wait until the tow truck came and follow her home.  I explained again that I needed to leave, and she got extremely irritated and said she didn’t want her wheelchair out of her sight.

What?  Like I’m going to steal it?

I was running out of time and despite her distress I finally left, promising to take her wheelchair to her house as soon as I could.  Anyway, I picked up the kids, drove to the tire shop, paid for the tire, and took it and the wheelchair to her house. She sent her son-in-law out to help me unload and didn’t even offer to pay me for the tire.

The next day she called me in distress, explaining that she needed a good, inexpensive mechanic to fix her Subaru because she absolutely couldn’t be without it.  I suggested my mechanic and made the arrangements.  She called me back after he had thoroughly checked it out.  She was crying and saying she didn’t have the money needed to fix it and have it inspected (it was overdue). I asked her what needed to be done, how much money it would cost, and told her I would see what I could do to help.

Maybe it was the fact that her voice kept cracking, she seemed flustered, and she couldn’t keep her story straight, but a knot formed in my stomach, and I kept hearing the catchphrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!” from the TV series Lost in Space.  I quickly called my mechanic and got a whole different breakdown of what was wrong and what the repair costs would be—a much smaller amount of money.

Well, many of you might figure my story ends right there and I never saw this “friend” again, but I’m either really kind or really stupid.  I just couldn’t leave her without a vehicle and figured she must have a very good reason for lying to me.  I called her back and told her to have the repairs done and that I would pay for it all.

After the work was done, I met her at the mechanics to pay.  She asked me for the cash, but I told her I would pay the mechanic directly.  She was livid!  Absolutely livid!  She has never spoken to me again, and she tried to cause trouble for my mechanic by saying he caused other damage to her vehicle, insisting that he fix it and pay for it.

There are those around me that believe it’s not worth sticking your neck out to help others, you just get burned.  Yes, I have had a number of negative experiences like this one and could go on all day with similar stories.  But, something in my heart tells me that helping others is what life is all about, and I wouldn’t want to give up the sweet taste of joy because of a few sour people. I’ve become more cautious, suspicious you might say, but still believe that the best way to help myself is to help others. 

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
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Image credit: azalia / 123RF Stock Photo


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