Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Five: Help!


Help me if you can
I'm feeling down
And sure appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me?

Here's this week's challenge from the RevGalBlogPals:

"I hate to ask for help. I love to give it. You may identify with these feelings.
"So, for this Friday Five, please list four ways you have been helped when you didn't want to ask for it and one way you had a chance to help that meant a lot to you." 
I do identify very much with these feelings. I come from a family where asking for help was a sign of weakness and failure; where you were supposed to get it right on your own, preferably the first time. So I've been on a learning curve these five decades when it comes to asking someone to help me get my feet back on the ground. But when I have asked for help, here are four responses that have stayed with me through the years.

1. The merciful professor. I was sophomore in college; it was final exams week; I somehow misread my schedule and missed my German Lit exam -- a third of my grade. I was aghast and ashamed; here I was, a 4.0 student, and I'd blown my GPA, not to mention a good chunk of tuition money, because  of a moment of inattention. So I slunk up to the German Department offices and, winking back tears, asked my professor if I could take a make-up exam. To my surprise he didn't lecture me or tell me, "Tough luck." Instead, he said, "Well, these things happen," and made arrangements for me to take the exam later in the week.

2. My first therapist. I was working in Cadillac, finding myself at a multiple crossroads in my life, personal and vocational. I felt overwhelmed; paralyzed; defeated. So one day I worked up the nerve to call a therapist -- someone I picked out of the Yellow Pages -- and made an appointment. A week later I found myself circling her office building, so hesitant to park my car and go inside. But it turned out to be the best decision I could have made; gaining a caring but objective advisor and sounding board.

3. The long ride home. One of the ironies in dealing with the death of a loved one is the fact that, literally minutes after experiencing this loss, one is suddenly bombarded with bureaucratic questions related to release of the body. I was fortunate that after my mom died my pastor came to the hospital to walk me through this process. Then he asked me, "Would you like a ride home? Don't worry about your car; we'll take care of  it." I wasn't sure who the "we" was, but at that moment, pondering the prospect of driving back home to my empty house, I knew I wasn't clear-headed enough to get there safely. So I mumbled, "Okay," and collapsed into the passenger seat of the pastor's Jeep. It was just one of many gifts of kindness I accepted in the days that followed.

4. The fateful flat. I was nervous but excited; I'd just been invited to my first get-together with other lesbians...and it was just down the highway in a neighboring town. I was looking forward to whatever affirmation I could get at this luncheon meeting involving about a dozen women from a 40-mile radius.

Then I discovered the flat tire on my car; flatter than a flat thing that is flat. Oh, no.

I'm not a mechanic; not even a flat-tire-changer. And it was Sunday.

I called the organizer and asked if someone could give me a lift to the festivities. She was one of the more far-flung participants and had no real idea where I was on the map; she hesitated, then said, "Why don't you call _____? I think she lives near you." She gave me the number.

With some trepidation I called, realizing how odd my request would sound to a total stranger. It sounded like the premise for one of those Lifetime serial-killer dramas.

To my surprise, the woman who answered the phone agreed to find me and give me a ride to the luncheon.  "I'm not good with directions," she added, "so I might have to call you back."
Which she did, several times, including once from my neighbor's driveway.

And that's how I met Fellow Traveler. True story.,

5. The raggedy man in the woods. A few years ago we were on our way to one of our semi-frequent trips to the Leelanau Peninsula. We'd gotten an early start, this foggy morning and were feeling hungry about halfway along the route. We stopped at a local McDonald's for a quick to-go breakfast, then headed for a nearby city park to eat and give  the dogs some exercise  time.

We'd just parked the Jeep and had started unwrapping our food when a dark, wraithlike figure appeared from out of the woods and the morning fog that still swirled through the park. We watched as it drew closer.

It was a man -- a skinny old man, in ragged layers of clothes, headed for one of the park trash cans. Soon he was digging through the can, apparently looking for bottles to scavange for deposits...or maybe, we realized, he was looking for food. 

We knew what we had to do. We got out of the Jeep, McDonald's meals and hot coffees in hand, and gave everything to him.

"Thank you," he said.

4 comments:

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Know what? I miss your longer writings. I'm glad you are on my Google Reader so I didn't miss these mini-essays, dear cyber and FB friend. I ran out of stuff to say on my blog over a year ago. And I've had a busy year so far with several very bummers happening to me and loved ones, so I just don't have it in me to write. But gee, I miss the connections that the longer writing of other bloggers gave me. And there are about 6 of you I wouldn't have met through FB, but only because of the blogs.

Martha Spong said...

What a cute "meet" story!

RevAlli said...

Beautiful. Thank you for posting.

Beth said...

Love the "how we met!" It made me smile.