I fancy myself a ‘culturally aware’ individual. If only because I’ve lived in a few different places.
Several weeks ago, I drove to school to pick up my oldest. I parked the car-van on the side of the snow and ice encrusted street. Being as careful as possible to avoid the deep ruts where others before me had gotten stuck. When I got out to lock the car, I noticed a white Mercedes sedan parked directly across the school. The car had gotten stuck, I gathered, from the awful sounds and smells it was emitting. And the frustrated look on the face of its owner – a young Muslim man.
But no one else had noticed, it seemed, as none of the other moms standing nearby had offered to help in extricating his car from the icy clutches of the sidewalk. It occurred to me that I should offer some assistance. Even if, with my bat-wings, I’m not exactly a prime specimen of physical strength.
And then I thought it was ridiculous of me to think I could help. But when I walked by he’d gotten out of the car to try and push his car to freedom. Alone. Which, to my untrained eye, seemed like an exercise in futility.
So I listened to my inner voice and stopped on the driver’s side of the car. ‘Do you need help,’ I asked hesitantly. ‘I could maybe turn the steering wheel or push on the gas (pedal) while you tried to push it out,’ I suggested lamely. After all, I didn’t want him to think I was going to steal his car. Or that I was volunteering to push his car out for him.
He looked skeptical, but accepted my help. ‘Sure, we could try that,’ he replied. As if he suspected I’d be useless in getting his car unstuck.
I climbed in the driver’s seat, being very careful to leave the door open. See Mr. Stuck Man, I’m not trying to steal your car, I’m a nice person, I felt like saying. He instructed me in the ways to turn the wheel, and when to hit the gas pedal. More awful noises and smelly-ness filled the air.
‘Okay, I think I’ve got it from here,’ he dismissed me. ‘Thanks a lot.’
So I, the good Samaritan, got out of the car and headed towards the pick-up line. Determined to ignore the irritating little voice in my head next time it decided to speak up. A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Mercedes drive away. Quickly.
A few days ago, I saw Mr. Stuck Man drive by the school in his white Mercedes.
He was all alone in the front of the car. His wife was sitting in the back.