I helped a little old lady cross the street

The scene: Greenwich Village, crossing the street to my building. A windy rainy spring afternoon.
I’m hurrying home. As I cross the street I see a woman, maybe in her 70s, about five feet tall, struggling with an umbrella in the wind. She also has a cane and a handbag. Three things, two hands, and wind.
I stop, turn around and ask her if she could use a hand.
Yes, she says. She just wants to get across the street. So I take her umbrella in my left hand and offer my right arm for her to hold. She shuffled around her bag and cane to her right hand and took my arm with her left. We waited for the light and crossed. When we got to the other side she went on her way and I hurried back to my business.
Does stuff like this actually happen outside Leave it to Beaver? I’ve heard boy scouts are supposed to do it, and Neo in the Matrix helped his land lady carry out her garbage, but I don’t know of anyone actually helping a little old lady cross the street. Until now. I’m not bragging. I’m just sharing that I did it.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Natalie

    I once tied the shoe of a really adorable elderly lady on a CTA bus (I live in Chicago). We were sitting across and facing each other and I saw the laces of one of her shoes were completely undone and I could not help it. The bus was full of people and I felt like such a weirdo which is stupid because all I could think and could not get out of my brain was that she was someone’s grandmother. So I said screw it and I let the lady know that her shoe laces were undone and I tied them for her. She was happy.
    Also, I once helped an elderly couple round up their grocery list items. I worked at Costco at the time and they asked me where the peanut butter was. I worked in the wine section and I was not busy so I took them to their item. I noticed they had a list and because it was New Year’s Eve and the wife was in a wheelchair, I offered to take their list (of 8+/- items) and dash through the store and grab their items. Then, I asked one of the supervisors if they would ring the couple very quickly, as a favor. The supervisor, Heather, who still works there, agreed without question. My shift was done 45 minutes later and when I was walking out I actually saw this couple sitting outside waiting by the front entrance. It turned out that they lived in a retirement community and the company that offers the drop off and pick up service was running (extremely) late. Our store was closed by then too but we still had a mess of workers inside cleaning up so I asked the assistant manager if we can let the couple wait in the vestibule, where it was at least heated. I gave the lady my scarf to cover her legs and drove to the Dunkin Donuts (a two minute drive) and bought them hot chocolate. The taxi service (not sure what to call it) arrived about 10 minutes after that. They must have been waiting for nearly two hours total. The woman gave me a kiss on my cheek and whispered in my ear saying she wished me a beautiful life. It was and is to this day one of the greatest experiences that I never imagined I’d have.

    1. Joshua

      Thanks for sharing! I hope your practice spreads to others it wouldn’t have otherwise.
      I can’t add anything else.

  2. J

    🙂 That’s so helpful of you. Remember that guy who helped me carry the stool over the subway pass because I was struggling? Also remember all the cars stopped for us even if we weren’t crossing the sidewalk?

    1. Joshua

      Yeah, people helping others for no reason happens all the time. I wasn’t sure if I should post about it since so many people do it, I didn’t want to sound like I was trying to impress, but I’m glad I did because it’s led to people sharing how they’ve helped or been helped by others.

      1. es

        >people helping others for no reason
        There is a reason. It’s called compassion. Identifying others pains/ sufferings and alleviating those. The amount of compassion we see pretty much depends on the culture and the relationships.
        The reason for compassion , I think, is also “sharing” – based on the hypothesis or premise that people can’t live alone and we all need to depend on others to a certain degree as a collective being.
        My last 2 cents.

  3. Natalie

    Sometimes we can have the intention of helping and set out to do so but don’t actually help, we may even cause pain. There has to be some kind of understanding of your intuition to understand what/who your helping/effecting. I shared two stories and for the second one, I worried that perhaps the time I saved the elderly couple was equal to the amount of time they ended up waiting in freezing weather. It was near the end of the business day and the store was not that busy. Not busy enough that after a very busy day, my area was clean, stocked and organized as it should and could be and I was able to step away to initially help them on the other side of the store. Also, that I even thought to bug management for a request. I like to think I consider(ed) these things. Maybe I saved them 15-20 minutes of time (this makes me feel horrible actually). But I remember being with them and I feel that they considered me to be helpful to them every step of the way. The way they said yes to any of my offers. I think it was nice too for the supervisor and assistant GM to each make the call to help these people. Especially in the end to allow them to wait “inside” after store hours. When that question was posed I felt like we were in a little mini town hall meeting questioning opposing technicalities: store rules and humanity stuff. The manager was awesome and it was a no brainer. Also, for me- with regards to sharing these kinds of stories and worrying that I might come off as trying to impress, I think that for each of the situations I shared, I would describe my actions as they unfolded to be impulsive in a way but also being done despite being reactionary in a way where understanding what it truly means to be helpful is not the objective, solely. I hope I said that right. 🙁 lest my better self be broken hearted. (something I take full responsibility for) its not just for me to know that i have one to break, but I feel it is my duty and privilege (joy) to know how it does. as it is a duty and privilege to be indiscriminately helpful and feel a luck about it.

    1. Joshua

      You wrote a lot. I’ll comment on one thing. I agree what one person intends as help may not end up feeling helpful to the recipient. Rather than relying on intuition, I find asking them works. In any case, I wrote a few posts on how I’ve learned to avoid giving unsolicited advice, which is like unsolicited help.

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