6 January 2016 - 6:21 pm

My Samaritan

It was like this, but dirtier. (Picture by Counselling via pixabay)

It was like this, but dirtier.
(Picture by Counselling via pixabay)

I had an interesting experience recently. As I was driving to the movies with my dad and a friend, the car was pulling towards the left slightly. It was subtle, enough that I put it down to being a bit tired and not quite paying attention. It was easily corrected.

There was a strange noise a few minutes later. It was quiet, almost drowned out by our talking, but enough that I shushed my passengers to check that it was, in fact, being made by the car. Then I pulled over.

Yup, flat tyre. Bollocks.

Now, I like to think I’m fairly capable. I can check a certain amount of basic engine things: oil, water, washer fluid. I can change out a distributor cap (a car I had a few years ago needed a new cap about once a year). And I’ve changed a tyre before. It’s a pain in the ass, but I can do it.

So while we had the light and space to do it, I didn’t bother to call my roadside assistance service (I have one, thank goodness).

My dad was quick to grab the jack and get down beside the car to start the process. We had fun attempting to get the hub cap off, but it turns out that it goes under the wheel nuts (never seen that before), so my friend and I stood back out of the way while the jack was set up.

Next thing we knew, there was a car pulling up behind mine and a guy hopped out. He was a big, burly fella with a shaven head, of Maori descent, and with Maori-style tribal tattoos down both arms. The sort of guy who wouldn’t look out of place in a bikie gang, a dimly-lit bar, or a BBQ on the beach. The sort of guy that people warn you about. The sort of guy that people would make a lot of assumptions about, most of them not terribly complementary or reassuring.

It’s worth pointing out that the road we were on is a main road between two suburbs. There was a steady flow of traffic going in both directions. He came over to us with an offer of help with whatever was wrong, and I smiled and thanked him, because people don’t often do that.

It took me a moment to realise that this fella had seen two girls on the side of the road, standing by a car with its hazard lights on, and he had immediately turned around and come to help out. He hadn’t seen my dad because the car was in the way. He had assumed we were stuck and reacted without hesitation.

This kind Samaritan – whose name I never got, he was so quick to head off when it was all done – was pleasant and happy to help out, even though we probably didn’t need it. He wasn’t creepy or unsettling in any way; he was just a nice guy who took time out of his day to help out complete strangers that he thought needed it. Even after realising we had someone working on it already and probably weren’t quite what he had assumed, he insisted on jumping in to help and crouched down next to the wheel.

No-one else driving along that road stopped. (To be fair, they may have seen his car there and assumed we had enough help.)

I’m grateful for his appearance, even though we would have been okay on our own. It got me thinking about assumptions and how we react in these cases. I thought about whether I would stop if I saw the same thing (I’d like to think so, but it hasn’t come up yet). Mostly, I thought about how people might react to someone of his appearance approaching them in a time of need.

I was simply grateful to him, then and now. I was so touched by the fact that he stopped to help us that I didn’t have time to be anything but thankful and a bit embarrassed towards him.

But there was a part of my brain that wondered if he always got that reaction. I can imagine that people would judge him unfairly because of the way he looks: some might be guarded with him, or outright refuse his aid, or assume he had stopped for some other, less sympathetic purpose. I can imagine that stereotypes would get in the way, whether related to race or class or ink.

I came away from that stop by the side of the road with a good memory of something that was otherwise a pain in my ass (and was worse when I got the bill for fixing the tyre). I felt a little bit better about myself, because I try to take people as I find them and give them a fair go, despite all the scare-mongering that goes on in the public consciousness these days. I want to be the person that smiles and is pleasant, regardless, and I’m glad that I lived up to it that day. And I had some of my faith in humanity justified by this person who stopped to lend us a hand.

So, thank you, mystery man. Thank you for taking time out of your day to help us out. Thank you for being unexpected and awesome. I’m sorry that I didn’t get your name.

In a world that is suffering under the weight of people judging each other harshly, when the media is full of the bullshit caused by people turning stereotypes into reasons for hate, thank you for reminding me that we can be free of that if we choose. We can just be people going about our business, reaching out and interacting with each other without that crap in the way, and we can brighten each other’s day in the process.

I hope you have some idea of the difference you made to us, beyond changing a tyre and helping us make our movie.

Thank you.

What do you think of this post?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • More pls (0)

Comments are closed!