Nina Spencer

Lending A Generous Hand

Last Sunday, while I was at the gas station, a woman locked herself out of her car--no, no, not me!. Her car was still running (purse and keys locked inside). A man offered to help her (he, coincidentally was a locksmith and had the means)...for $30.00!!! Overhearing this, and at the risk of sticking my nose in others' business, I commented "Wouldn't it be nicer if you helped her, just to be kind...to be chivalrous???" He replied that, in this economy, he had to make a buck anyway he could and that, "How else am I going to pay for my locksmith's license?" So what does this mean??? He cruises gas stations on Sunday mornings hoping to find people who've locked themselves out of their cars??? This is his business strategy for making money/for earning a living???

I suggested to this damsel-in-distress that her $30.00 would be better put to use towards a CAA membership, which she could secure on-the-spot and, at the same time, receive her first service right then and there. I've been a die-hard CAA member since 1975 and have now lost track regarding how many times they've helped me out of tight spots over the years, from battery charging, highway flats to, yes, even rescuing my dog from inside the car, in winter, when my new fangled electronic car doors spontaneously locked.

When the locksmith heard me suggest CAA as an alternative to his "services" (that would take money out of his pocket and put it elsewhere), he retorted, "Okay, okay. Since you're in a spot, and it's an old car, I'll do it for $20.00!" As if being an older car had anything to do with it. This "business man" was clueless. He certainly didn't have a proper brain for growing his business (nor, seemingly, a chivalrous bone in his body). He didn't get the bigger picture...that maybe this stranded-at-the-gas-station woman would have sang his heroic praises for days (and maybe weeks and months) afterwards, to lots of neighbours, friends and colleagues. She may have even gone on to book his services to change all her house locks the very next day, thereby, giving him a much bigger pay day, tomorrow, than the $20.00 to $30.00 he was trying to hustle today!

The woman took my advice and called CAA (who, on a sleepy Sunday summer morning, had a road service representative to the rescue within 10 minutes, with a smile on his face and that neat lickity-split door opening tool, too). So a bad news story turned into a good news story for this woman. She now has all kinds of 24/7 roadside coverage down the metaphoric and literal road. And, as for that locksmith shyster guy, well, he lost...everything.

Whether it's helping out a person at a gas station on a Sunday morning, assisting a colleague with their overwhelming workload on a Wednesday afternoon, (when you have time to spare), or linking up an in-between-jobs friend with others in your professional network, consider the value and rewards of lending a generous hand (as the old Brownie motto encourages), anyway you can. Now is the time, more than ever, for all good people to come to the aid of colleagues and friends in need (especially through the balance of these summer weeks, when, oftentimes, the compliment of staff can get quite skeletal). It just might be good for their sprit and for your soul.