Today, I did a good deed…I think.
The situation was a little strange, and before I explain it, let me start by saying that in my world, the topic of charity and good deeds has come up several times recently in different ways. There have been blog posts, face to face discussions, even things on TV shows. I don’t normally question whether the universe is trying to tell me something, I just roll with it.
I’ve always been a fan of random acts of kindness, though there are some things that make me wary, usually because of the horror stories you hear in the news. There was a time (before my time, whichever time that is) that picking up a hitchhiker was a random act of kindness. Now it seems no one even considers it (few people seem brave enough to hitchhike either).
I got out of work today and as I was walking to my car, I heard someone call “Excuse me.” I turn around and there’s a girl walking from the road across the parking lot. She’s wearing K-State shorts, a t-shirt, and carrying a backpack which looked pretty heavy. She looked like she was in okay shape, but I noticed she was breathing heavily when she came closer. For the record, I don’t judge the shape a person is on their size. The girl wasn’t tiny, but she wasn’t overweight either. My judgement in this case came from the fact that she seemed to be walking at a pretty good clip, but the way she was breathing told me otherwise.
She asked if I was going towards Aggieville and if I could give her a ride. She said she had a friend she could meet down there and her friend had her medicine. She said she’d walk but she was having a hard time breathing and was afraid to try to make it all the way. Aggieville is about half a mile from where I work, and judging by the direction I’d seen her come, there was a good chance she’d already walked a quarter mile or more.
As much as I hate to say it, I had a moment of fear that she was going to try to rob me or steal my car or something. It’s a horrible thought, especially when I could see she was uncomfortable and having a hard time, but that’s where my mind went. Even so, I said okay and gave her a ride.
Like any ride with a stranger, it was a little awkward. We made small talk, and I found out that she’s a freshman at K-State, going part time so she can work to support herself. She did ask me if she could borrow some money to get something to eat since she hadn’t eaten all day. She said she’d bring the money to pay me back to my work tomorrow. The sad part is I honestly didn’t have any cash and the only debit card I had on me was for the account that’s tapped until payday. And when I told her that, I just sounded like someone making excuses. I asked if her friend would be able to help her, and she said probably.
Even if I wasn’t sure she was telling the truth, if I’d had money, I would have bought her some food. Especially because she she asked, she didn’t ask if she could borrow the money. She had some Burger King coupons and asked if I would buy a Whopper so she could have the free one off a BOGO coupon.
I dropped her off where she’d asked me to and told her I hoped she felt better soon. Then I drove away and felt…kind of crappy. Doing good deeds is supposed to give you sense of happiness, right? In the past, doing small things always made me feel good, and it wasn’t a matter of letting others know, it was just the sense of being in the right place at the right time and using what I had to help someone else.
I didn’t feel that today. In fact, I didn’t feel like I helped her at all. She was very grateful and very nice, and obviously she didn’t try to hijack the car or anything. Maybe it was that whole food thing…maybe the fact that I couldn’t help her bothered me, but so too did the fact that I sounded like someone making excuses not to help her. The whole thing just left me feeling down, and I can’t pinpoint why.
I’ve always been one to follow my hunches, but in this case, my first “hunch” felt like a snap judgement borne of too many horror stories and a high dose of caution. While it doesn’t hurt to be cautions, I have to wonder if my hunch was right, and that there was something off, or if I’ve just put up that wall of mistrust that will keep me safe in my little bubble in this corner of the world.
Both thoughts are kind of depressing.