01 December 2009

Count your blessings (instead of sheep)

Eden Kennedy, the mastermind behind NaBloPoMo, also runs a monthly blogging challenge and sends out an email every month with a theme that you can follow or not if you choose to blog for yet another month (dream on, at this point, though I've done it in the past). The themes are often pretty interesting, and the one for December was no exception:

"the theme for December is MITZVAH and it comes with a challenge: to give something, to someone, every day of the month, and then blog about it. The goal is to act with kindness, obviously -- I don't want to be responsible for people giving each other black eyes..."

Of course, I was intrigued. I try to act with kindness every day, and usually fail, unable to resist the opportunity to give a single finger salute to some car that is trying to hit me when I have the right of way in a crosswalk. In the last six months, it's taken very little to set me off into a firestorm of rage, and ironically, it's usually others' petty meannesses and selfishnesses that cause me to erupt into my own petty meannesses. Honestly, how difficult is it to hold the door for someone instead of letting it slam in his/her face while you're busy yammering on your cell phone? How difficult is it to cede to a pedestrian or bicyclist, particularly when they have the right of way? How hard is it to offer a polite response to someone who is helping you in a store? How hard is it to teach your child basic manners?

(...and she's off...)


But realistically, I thought, the daily grind in impolite So Cal aside, how likely is it that I would be able to do something like this when there are days that I pretty much don't leave the house because I'm working here?

(Also, she who was named Christian of the Year by her peers in eighth grade--and has never gotten over the humiliation thereof--prefers to keep her good deeds to herself, whilst freely talking about how horrible she is. Kick vans much when they turn in front you, lady? Yeah, done that.)


Tuesday mornings are early mornings around here. The son needs to be at the bus stop at his usual 7 am, and the daughter has her student government meeting before school, so leaves with me when I take the son. Generally, this makes Tuesdays slightly stressful trying to push them both out the door, doubly so when I get it into my head to be nice and get up at the crack of dawn to make them muffins for breakfast. Today was no exception, and the son was running back at the last minute because he forgot his PE clothes and the daughter was shivering, and I'd only managed a single cup of coffee since getting out of bed. So we'd finally gotten within sight of our destination, and were preparing to cross the street (at the crosswalk! Talking myself out of throwing things at cars making illegal turns!), when I witnessed a car making a radical maneuver out of the left turn lane, then turn left in the middle of the intersection. This is always a bad intersection, and it's not unusual for people to run the red light, refuse to wait for the turn arrow, and my pet peeve, make illegal right hand turns.

After watching this and murmuring to myself in slightly profane disbelief, a woman approached me at the corner, talking fast, a little panicky. Turns out her SUV died in the left turn lane (hence the other car's radical maneuver), she was afraid it would cause an accident, would I please help her push her car to the side of the road?

(I swear to you, there's a sign on me somewhere: Pushes cars out of traffic! Speaks multiple languages and can give directions! Will explain the fat content on ground beef!)

The son, of course, bless his heart, wanted to help. "You have a bus to catch," I told him.

The daughter wanted to watch. "No," I told her, not bothering to explain that Good Samaritans tend to get killed with frightening regularity in So Cal.

I told the woman I'd be happy to help her once I got my kids out of the way.

After getting them situated, I met her at her car, we talked over what we'd do, then I pushed and once the car was moving, she steered, and then I ran with it (literally. Thank God the SUV was heading down hill) and we got her over to the opposite curb without incident. Once I ascertained that she had additional assistance on the way, I left her, and went back across the street, where the daughter was beaming.

"You were running!" she said.

"You weren't supposed to be watching," I retorted severely.

She hugged me, and I headed home.

All in all, I considered, not a bad morning's work on a single cup of coffee.

Go listen to some good music: "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" from the album Christmas Songs by Diana Krall. One of my favorite Shirley Jackson stories is called "An Ordinary Day with Peanuts," and in it a man and his wife take turns being angel and devil out in the world. I feel like both most days.


Deb said...

I so totally lurve you!

guerrilla girl said...

Back at ya!

(I could burst into a chorus of "You're the Inspiration...")