So here’s another story I found in my draft archives. Apparently I never posted it for anyone to see. I thought it was worthy enough though, to send out to my little piece of the World Wide Web, considering what happened to me yesterday.
When I graduated from high school back in the ’80s, I was more-than-happy to move from small town America to a bigger small town for college, and eventually onto urban life. Country living was too narrow and well . . . just too small for my big self.
That is until a few years ago.
During my visits back home, I began to notice (and appreciate) a common thread between the rural idiosyncrasies. It was a trait that country folks seem to be born with. One that’s always there––easily and naturally assessable. It’s the quality of extending a helping hand.
I was reminded of this trait two times recently.
The first time was when I called the front desk of the hotel where I was staying during vacation to ask about the restaurant menu. The restaurant was literally part of the lobby space and a few steps from the front desk. So when I was told, “You can come down (my room was on the second floor) and find out for yourself,” you can imagine my shock. What? I thought. Surely I misunderstood him. He really doesn’t mean that I should find out for myself when he can ask the waitress, from where he’s standing, what the soup of the day is.
The second time happened when a friend, her 70-something mother-in-law, and I were all struggling to move a table down a flight of steps, supporting its weight on the rails, while a very capable man generously stepped aside to watch us. Really!!? we all thought, later verbalizing our thoughts in so many words as we lugged the table to my friend’s pickup truck.
My hometown might not have a lot of things, but what it does have is a bunch of people who watch over my widowed mother, farmers who plow snow-laden driveways for neighbors in the winter, people who gladly give from their gardens in the summer, women who always cook meals for those in need, and plenty who would go out of their way to find out what the soup of the day is, but who would never in a million years step out of the way to watch others struggle down a flight of steps with a table.
This quality of lending a helping hand smacked me in the face yesterday after passing a distressed smoke-filled vehicle. My conscience spoke, “Maybe we should stop, someone could be passed out inside.” Followed by my devil’s advocate, “Surely one of those other cars will stop. They’re passing by on that side.”
We reluctantly turned around. And it’s a good thing we did.
Nobody had stopped.
Shortly after we pulled up, a 16-year-old driver walked back to the vehicle after trying to get help, not realizing that his parents’ SUV was now filled with smoke and catching on fire. I called 9-1-1 while the 16-year-old went to a nearby house where a nice man came out with a fire extinguisher. A few minutes later the local firemen arrived.
I imagined my sons at 16, new drivers, in a distressed vehicle, needing assistance, and was so thankful my small-town roots got the best of me.