I like to think that I often go above and beyond the call of duty. At The Grove one day I chased down a father who was carrying his daughter. She had lost not one but both of her sandals as he walked, and I followed them into Crate & Barrel to return them. These are the kinds of things I do, because if my kid lost her sandals, I would want someone to do the same for me. I’m not claiming to be some amazing philanthropist, but I’ve helped my share of blind people across the street.
Today I stopped at a stop sign on my way to Smart & Final to buy water. I waited an extra long time because an elderly lady was crossing in front of me. I waved at her to indicate that I had nothing but time to allow her to shuffle in front of my car. She came right up to the window with her hand extended, and I assumed she just wanted to thank me in that over-the-top way that elderly people sometimes do. Anything short of being run down at a stop sign in Los Angeles is probably a random act of kindness in their eyes, after all.
But she said, “Could you drive me to Stanley only?” Stanley is a street that wasn’t far from where we were. Without thinking, I said, “I’m sorry, I’m going that way” and I drove away. Now, it should be noted that the way I was going and the direction she needed to go were one and the same, a fact I did not realize until three seconds after I drove away. Stanley was only a few blocks further down the road from Smart & Final, and for some reason she was walking in the wrong direction, so that had completely confused me.
So, not only did I not give the woman a ride on a warm day in Los Angeles, but I also did not correct her so that she would at least make it to Stanley one day. The guilt was overwhelming, especially because I couldn’t figure out why I said no to her. The only thing I can assume is that it sort of freaked me out for her to ask, and I just reacted without thinking.
I called Christine, who is a good girlfriend. She told me she didn’t want me to pick up strangers when I was alone in the car (and, no, Jack being in her crate in the back seat did not count). When I told her it was only a little old lady carrying an umbrella, she said, “Yeah, an umbrella that doubles as a sword.”
That’s my girl. I can always count on her to turn an old woman into an axe murderer in one sentence. Now I can go through life thinking about how I narrowly averted death by not picking up this sad, old woman who was clearly only out for blood.
Ben Rowen and the Unprecedented
16 hours ago