They say that no good deed goes unpunished…. I’m not sure I agree but some of the experiences I’ve lived through in the past three years would certainly seem to suggest this. But I was raised to believe that it’s important to help others if you can. In fact, my grandfather used to say that if you COULD help someone, you essentially have a responsibility to do so. For the majority of my life, that lesson has rattled around in my head every time I see someone struggling to carry something heavy, someone who needs help in a more ambulatory sense.
Last Thursday, I was at a retail location in the city and was walking to my car when I saw a small, silver Honda Civic sitting halfway out of a parking space and appeared to be spinning in place. Two guys appeared to be pushing at the front of the car and I thought to myself, Okay, they got this. I’ll just get myself home… Then I heard one of the guys say, “You’re hung up bad, dude. We can’t get you out.” And both guys walked away. What? you push once, car doesn’t move so you walk away from this guy who’s by himself? That dog won’t hunt, monseigneur!
I walked over to find a skinny, young guy trying to shovel himself out with a small shovel and appeared despondent. I offered to push while he gave the car small bursts of acceleration. I instructed him to cut his wheels a particular direction, but there was a significant language barrier and he basically just floored the accelerator and waited while I struggled against the vehicle. Now, I’m not an Olympian by any standard but I’m also not the smallest guy around. And a Honda Civic is a pretty small and light vehicle. That’s why it was hung up; it didn’t have enough weight to touch ground through the snow.
I heaved, pushing and lifting with my legs and giving it all my strength. My back popped and cracked and groaned in protest but the car started moving. trying to make the driver understand to allow the vehicle to rock back and forth to help get it out of its rut, but that wasn’t happening. He had me take the wheel, citing that I’d likely know how better to drive. not sure where THAT came from, but I gave it a try. When that didn’t work, I went back to trying to push.
The big problem is that he was blocking an entire travel lane for the parking lot and people were sliding around, trying to avoid his rear bumper and nearly colliding with other, oncoming vehicles. I felt I couldn’t just leave this guy to deal with all this alone. I also recognized that if it were my wife stuck in this situation, I’d want someone coming to help her if I wasn’t there.
Two other people finally came and helped me push and the driver’s vehicle finally got out. But the damage was done. My back flared and I could already feel a tightness beginning that I knew I would be paying for later. When i got home and explained to my wife what had happened , she quickly gave me some anti-inflammatory caplets. But the pain persisted and worsened as the evening progressed. The worst came when I bent over to hug my toddler and the pain flared like a bright light behind my eyes, to the point where tears started rolling down.
My wife asked if I needed a hospital visit. Not in today’s climate, thank you very much! Besides, I didn’t have four to six hours to wait in a triage room for the staff to send me home with ibuprofen. My back wasn’t broken, I likely just pulled something. It feels alright at the moment but I’ve certainly been taking it easy, the past few days. Winter has just started and this isn’t the time to be out of commission, considering that snow won’t remove itself.
Do I regret helping that person? Would I have reconsidered, had I known I would injure myself? In retrospect, it’s easy to say no but I likely would have altered how I would have given that help in order to prevent injury. But this taught me two things: I’m no longer young as springtime and my body has no compunctions against letting me know. It also shows that strength isn’t everything. Even if one is strong enough to do a thing, it won’t necessarily mean you SHOULD do a thing. But helping another human being is important, and definitely felt good despite the pain. Worth it. Food for thought…☯️