The Benefit of an Early Misstep
I grew up in a social environment which taught me that we, as people, were not to be trusted to do good. We were basically selfish, looked out largely for ourselves instead of others and, therefore, could not be trusted and needed to be controlled from the top down.
In other words, it was risky to rely on the generosity and goodwill of others. It was safer to avoid people, especially crowds of people.
I still may be naive, but I’m now willing to bet that, given a fair shake, most people can manage their own affairs effectively and are willing to help others when they see a need. At 80, with life-long cerebral palsy and a person often needing help, I can give you multiple examples, some of which occur almost daily, in which people are willing to stop to help me when I need it.
Not long ago, Pam and I decided to shop at Trader Joe’s in downtown Minneapolis for the first time. I had my druthers due to carjackings. After all, we are always prime targets because we drive a nice car and move so slowly in getting in and out of the car and stashing the groceries in the back seat.
So, instead of risking the people-desert of a nearby parking garage, my plan was to leave Pam right at the front door of Trader Joe’s (only 11 minutes from home) and then pick her up again at the same busy spot when she had finished shopping.
To my surprise, the pickup spot was again vacant when I returned. Pam was sitting inside by the window and, as I was calling her on my phone, a man with flowers in his hand and also waiting for his ride, recognized I was trying to get her attention, tapped on the window and helped Pam navigate her grocery cart through the store’s entry way to our car.
A woman who was passing by on the sidewalk then offered to help Pam put our five bags of groceries in the back seat of our car with the parting words, “Stay safe.”
• Now that you’re a mature adult, how is your approach to risky situations different than it was when you were a youngster?
Thank you, Jim, for these heart-warming stories. Life is good and so are people.