The car was a bit poky this morning when I first started it up, but I chalked it up to the cold and rainy weather. I made it to one appointment then stopped off at Walmart for some staples.
But when I came out of the store, the car refused to start. It clicked ineffectually when I turned the key. I lifted the hood and toyed with the battery wires, hoping there was just a loose connection. No such luck.
It was raining, it was raw and then, when I tried to call AAA, my cell phone didn't work. The albatross represented by a car that didn't work gained another albatross in a cell phone that didn't work.
And as I sat there addressing the helpless sense that rises up in such instances, a fellow pulled up in the next parking space and asked if I needed some jumper cables. We tried unsuccessfully to try the gadget he had. And then he said we might try pushing it and jump-starting the car.
And even in the rain and cold, he helped me to push.
It didn't work and I had to walk to a nearby garage to use the phone ... and everybody there was sympathetic and helpful.
And while I sat in the car waiting for the tow truck, I found that the sense of helplessness and frustration had been blown away by people whose names I did not know. They didn't ask for recognition or accolades, they just did what they thought needed to be done.
When the car got towed to the garage I use, I had to beg for a ride home. Wife, daughter and son were all out of the house and I had to say please once more.
Sure thing. No problem, said Jose.
To me, it all seemed like incredibly good fortune.
To all of these strangers, I think it was as natural as the unforgiving rain that was falling.
Their assistance made me want to act with an equally undemanding kindness when circumstances arose.
Or, as the Dalai Lama once put it, "My religion is kindness."
The difference seemed to be that these people skipped the religion and went straight for the kindness.