It Does Hurt to Help
Ever hear the phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished”? Although a cynical outlook, I find it to be exceptionally true a lot of times in life. Well, at least in my life.
A few years ago, my company flew me out to Pennsylvania for a few days to take part in team building exercises and corporate training. Basically, we spent three days in a conference room doing things like making up stupid company cheers and figuring out how we would get off a desert island armed only with a bucket, twine, a broom handle, and a bag of oranges. I hate those exercises, because you know you’re going to die on that island, but there’s that one dork who is “Ra Ra” waving the company flag dancing around saying, “Come on guys, we can make it, we have that ‘can do’ Insta-Corp attitude!” I was excused from the group after suggesting we plant the broomstick in cheerleader boy’s back and use him as a boat to sail back to the mainland. Apparently, they frown on that sort of thing.
I first realized we were in trouble the day we arrived in Pennsylvania because the corporate office we were going to was within shouting distance of Three Mile Island. For you youngsters out there, that’s referred to as melt-down country here in the states. From there, things continued to get worse. The instructors were the type that had big smiles on and played super nice, but if you didn’t participate in their cheery little activity with a great attitude, you got dirty looks the whole time and were put on the reject teams where even if they had a fully functioning sailboat, they couldn’t get off that desert island.
Luckily, the guy who I had to share a flight and my rental car with was fairly cool, so we pretty much hung out the whole time and heckled the speakers. (Side note: Yes, I know I am totally against hecklers, but this kind of corporate torture deserved the rebellion.) After the conference was over, and we got our pair of dimes in a box (so we could remember to not create paradigms) and our thinking outside the box paper hats, then they released us back to the hotels so we could pack and go.
When we dropped the car off at the rental depot at the airport my friend and I noticed this very nice, very old lady having trouble with her car. We decided to do the hero thing and stop to help her. That was our first and biggest mistake, at least in regards to her. The problem was that she had rented one of the new push button models where you have to step on the brake, spin in a circle, tap dance, recite the contents of the Magna Carta, and then push the start button. It just won’t work otherwise.
We dropped our bags at the back of the car and each tried to figure out the right combination of buttons, etc. to get the car started. It was going on 10 minutes of switching back and forth when I finally figured out the combination. My friend got out of the car when I told him I had figured out the combination to start the car. He stepped out, I got in the car, and the nice old old lady who had been patiently waiting by the rear passenger door backed up slightly when my friend got out of the car. Well she scooted a little too close to our bags which were at the rear of the car and proceeded to do a back-flip, yes a literal back flip, over the bags and somehow landed with all her weight on her left wrist. I jumped out of the car to see if she was ok. My friend was already helping her to her feet when I got out. I asked, “Are you alright, ma’am?!” She replied, “I think so…uh oh…that doesn’t look good.” She held up her arm…and her wrist had completely snapped in half and was hanging there limply. Now the EMT in me took over and I immediately began stabilizing her until the medics got there. In my head though, when she held up her wrist (which was seemingly blowing in the breeze like a limp windsock), my brain said, “AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!”
So the medics came to pick her up. We explained what happened. She couldn’t have been nicer, though I think it was just her being in shock that caused it. I would have slapped me with her new hand-flail, had I been in her position.
So she left with the ambulance and we were left standing there with our bags on the ground and looking at each other like, “WTH just happened there?!”
I guess my point here is if you’re going to help someone, try not to break them in the process.