Archive for the ‘Good Samaritan’ Category

Service of When Man Worsens the Impact of Nature & the Happy Ending

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Snow March 2017 at RR station 1 turned

It’s bad enough when you’re not on the spot to eradicate damage left by a hefty snowfall while the precipitation is fresh and easier to remove. That can’t be helped when you park your car at an outdoor lot by a railroad station and you’re not planning to return for a few days or more. Best you can do is hope for a few warm, sunny days to melt the damage if you’re lucky.

When the people hired to clear the snow make it harder for customers to extricate their cars from igloo-like conditions they cause by their lazy snow removal strategy, it’s enraging. None of the other lots on the two hour trip north looked anything like ours—see photos above and right–and we’re told that the last lot on the line a few miles farther north—Wassaic, N.Y.–wasn’t nearly as much of a mess.

There is plenty of space in this lot to dedicate an out-of-the-way areaSnow March 2017 at RR station 2 turned for a giant mound of snow which is standard practice in the northeast. The plows at the Dover Plains station clear the roadway by piling snow against the cars as they go past which makes it much easier and quicker for them and much worse for us.

We’d asked one company what they would charge to get us out and were told, “We’ll let you know when we’re done.” Translation: “Open your checkbook and we’ll see how much we’ll charge you.”

Snow Angels

Our friends Bob and John exit the train in Wassaic. Last Friday they took the early train upstate, extricated their car and drove down to free ours. This was a huge gift. Even if we had the tools, we don’t have the strength for this chore.

To make things worse, I’d jumped the gun in anticipation of spring and committed the mortal error of parking nose first. Not only did they remove the snow-turned to ice that was as high as the trunk and halfwayup the doors, [photo below, left] they had to clear the front, the sides, and where the wheels were to go and then they turned around the car so it was facing out. When a few hours later we walked out of the train and into the car we left the station in minutes singing their praises.

We have no control over nature but we can manage how we deal with it. Have you seen sloppy or spectacular cleanup jobs after storms? Can you share examples of friends who donate not only their muscle and know-how but their precious little free time to help others in a pinch?

The Before: Our car is in the middle

The Before: Our car is in the middle

After: Our car ready to roll.

After: Our car ready to roll.

Service of Paying it Forward

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Pay it forward

Yesterday I was in line at the cashier at the Amish Market, a gourmet grocery store best known for prepared foods, deli products, super sandwiches, giant barrels of olives, toothsome pastries, muffins and cakes, coffee—all sorts of goodies. Holding my hot soup container and a bag of rolls in one hand I groped in my handbag for my turquoise wallet which, due to its size and color, is easy to find–but it wasn’t there.

When it was my turn I asked the cashier to put aside what I wanted to buy, explained why, and went to an empty space out of her way but nearby so she could check out the others and I could look in my bag with two hands.

Olives at Amish MarketThe cashier said, “She wants to pay,” and I replied without looking up, “No thanks, I’m good,” thinking that I’d run next door—my office is in the adjacent building–and borrow money from the doorman or one of the tenants in my office.

Once I was satisfied that my wallet wasn’t there, and I’d called home to confirm I’d not left it behind, I said, “I’ll be right back” to the cashier. She handed me a bag with the soup and rolls in it and repeated, “That woman already paid!”

Amish MarketI’d been so busy fretting as I looked for my wallet that I didn’t even see what the Good Samaritan looked like. I asked the cashier if she could identify her, hoping she was a regular. I wanted to thank her [and return her money]. The cashier said there are too many customers, she wouldn’t remember.

I feel guilty especially for not thanking or in any way recognizing the woman’s generosity and kindness as I was busy worrying about the repercussions of the lost wallet while hoping that it would magically appear. Has something like this happened to you? What would you do at this point to rectify the situation if you were in my shoes?

 I feel guilty box

 

Service of Good Sportsmanship vs. Winning School Sports

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

cross country fallen 2

The intransigence of Minnesota state officials about an incident involving the “no help” rule in a recent cross country race inspired the conversation on Rick Wolff’s “Sports Edge,” his sports parenting program on WFAN radio one recent Sunday morning. Two girls who stopped to assist another runner were disqualified and were not credited with finishing the race.

Wolff explained the reason behind the rule: Should a Good Samaritan move an injured cross country fallenrunner, more damage than good might result. At the same time he thought that being disqualified is a big price to pay for doing the right thing. In a typical cross country course there are plenty of tripping hazards–tree roots and such. Each case should be taken up on an ad hoc basis.

Before Wolff asked his audience what they thought he shared a few other examples in which, unlike in Minnesota, the officials bent the rule.

  • In Memphis, runner Seth Goldstein noticed that a fallen competitor’s lips were turning blue and his eyes were slipping up into his head. Though runners ahead of him kept going, Goldstein stopped. Goldstein knew CPR from his lifeguard job and saved the other man’s life. He was pronounced a hero. Tennessee officials recognized the run.
  • In Ohio crowds encouraged officials to change their decision to disqualify after cheering two girls who had stopped to help a competitor. 

cross country 2And Wolff’s callers?

  • Some felt that the difference between the Tennessee, Ohio and Minnesota incidents was crucial: There was an adult by the side of the runner in Minnesota who told the girls to keep going and they chose not to. The callers felt that because an adult was alerted and on top of the accident, there was no need for the girls to stop.
  • Others said that our litigious society was at the bottom of the rule in the first place. If a do-gooder caused a fellow runner to require knee replacement surgery, for example, because he/she helped up the competitor prematurely, lawsuits might ensue.
  • Another said that he didn’t consider helping a fallen fellow competitor was good sportsmanship but rather, good “humanship,” and should be encouraged. Yet another said he would hire the Minnesota girls who helped over the winner of a race any time as he appreciated their attitude.

Should student athletes be encouraged to consider the greater good over winning? Would that make them misfits in today’s society? Should sports officials stick by the rules no matter what as the Minnesota officials did?  

cross country 4

Service of Good Samaritans

Monday, March 26th, 2012

giving-a-hand

I’ve known Good Samaritans and have written about them at least twice, in Service of Snow and Service of Pets II.

Two Good Samaritans helped out my husband, Homer, last Thursday night.

The weather turned hot and Homer left his winter coat on the 4:38 pm Metro-North Harlem Line train and in its pocket were his car keys. The car was in the parking lot at the railroad station. I had the second set of keys and I was at the office in the city, two hours away.

mta-policeI dialed the MTA police emergency number clearly marked on the train schedule, worrying that our crisis wasn’t bad enough and didn’t qualify as urgent. The policeman 3764–he wouldn’t give me his name–was wonderful, calming and quick. After hearing the story, he took my number and hung up. He called me back immediately saying he’d reached the conductor on the train who’d found the coat and put it in a lockbox at the last station. Our stop is third from last.

Meanwhile we couldn’t reach a neighbor at home or at work to drive Homer to the other station or home.

I asked the MTA policeman to do me a huge favor: To please call Homer directly in the event he had a question. He didn’t hesitate and said he’d gladly do so and even gave Homer a message from me.

doverplainsrrTrains don’t come often to this rural spot. Homer planned to take the next northbound one to retrieve his coat and then wait on that isolated platform for almost two hours for the next southbound train.

Soon a man on a motorcycle drove up to my husband. He was Dale Hossfield, the Metro-North conductor from the train Homer had just exited. Hossfield reassured him that he’d found his coat and told him precisely where he’d stored it at the end of the line.

I settled into a new project at my desk at work, deciding not to leave my desk until the situation was resolved and Homer had a way to get home. The station is in an iffy neighborhood and once a train moves on, it gets lonely. I was surprised to hear from Homer some 20 minutes, not 1.5 hours, later. “I’m inside our car!” he said.

Instead of going home to dinner after a long day at work, Hossfield returned to the lockbox two stations up and cycled back to the station with Homer’s coat and car keys. He wouldn’t accept a cent for all the gas he used driving back and forth [$4.04/gallon for regular]. There was no way to repay him for his time and kindness. Talk about beyond the call of duty.

People are in such a rush and often don’t take time to help others. We’ve learned to ignore someone who might welcome help. We have selective vision, like a waiter in a crowded restaurant who won’t move his eyes from the water he’s pouring to see a customer who is motioning for the check–or for water–and may have been doing so for several minutes.

How can we get the message to the “I’m too important and far too busy” crowd to tell them how much someone might appreciate a hand? Can you share a Good Samaritan story?

rushingtowork1

Service of Pets II

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

purebred-dog

I could write about pets every week and have succumbed to temptation several times before, once to mostly crow about their charm and once to note how vets seem to take better care of animals than some doctors do people.

Many pay $ thousands for purebred dogs and cats, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” as Seinfeld would have said, especially if you plan to use the dog to hunt or rescue, if that’s what a breed has instincts to do. I don’t think I’d love a purebred any more than the cats and dogs in my household over the years. None of mine have been 100 percent anything, but they haven’t been working dogs or cats either [other than to smile at the camera].

seeing-eye-dogI admire Seeing Eye dog foster families who invite puppies to live with them until they are old enough to graduate to hardcore training. They also give the little ones initial instruction, for free. They know in advance that they must give up the furry love balls. Their reimbursement: That they are helping a stranger become independent, a remarkable gift.

In contrast I read about a different approach and reimbursement model in a recent front page story in The New York Times “For the Executive with Everything, a $230,000 Dog to Protect It,” by John Tierney. He wrote about tycoons and celebs who spend mostly in the $40,000 to $60,000 range for German shepherds trained to protect them and he obviously also wrote about the dog worth almost a quarter of a million dollars. The concept is that a dog is a cheaper guardian than a human security guard.

I wonder how reliable the dogs are at either $40,000 or $230,000 for a rough life in the security biz? I’ve seen the sweetest, gentlest dogs turn nasty/fierce/act dog-like in a flash provoked by something unfamiliar and sometimes, for no reason evident to me. I would worry that the dog might get a mixed signal and attack, by mistake, a visiting mother-in-law, friend or child.

What about dogs trained for police, military, drug detection and Seeing Eye work? Are they worth more, less, as much?

Are Seeing Eye dog foster families chumps doing their work for free when others are being well paid to train dogs or are the chumps the people who pay so much for a security dog? If money were no object, would you depend on a trained dog to protect you, your home and family?

policedogs

Service of Snow

Monday, January 31st, 2011

snowman

Snow’s been in the news: There’s far too much of it in and around New York–more expected–and not a flake in China where it’s needed to assuage a drought.

soupSnow brings income to folks working snowplows and shovels. Sanitation workers in city and country must be celebrating their overtime paychecks. Boot, sand and salt sales are soaring and I saw a growing line of 18 waiting for soup at Hale & Hearty in the basement of Grand Central. There were countless other  super food choices-great pizza, fabulous hot dogs and brisket sandwiches–but snow inspires hot soup cravings.

Meanwhile a client bemoans the weather’s affect on retail sales, restaurants are empty and timing couldn’t be worse for Restaurant Week in New York–through February 6-where participating eateries charge $24.07 and $35 for lunch and dinner, respectively. [Can't figure out the reason for seven cents. Why not $20.11 and cut down portions?]

I buy newspapers from a man who sits on the sidewalk on Lexington Avenue and 44th Street. I asked him how he’s doing. The storms and frigid temperatures have severely affected his monthly take. He nevertheless smiled at me and wished me a good weekend. I’d like to bottle his spirit.

shovelGood Samaritans are busy: Snow seems to bring out the best in people. One helped us out of a bad spot and wouldn’t take anything but our heartfelt thanks. We park our car outdoors at a railroad station. Snowplows had piled over 20 inches of frozen stuff at the back of our car and there was another 30 inches in front. We were using our gloved hands and a foot-long brush with plastic ice chipper to clear the car windows when this angel jumped out of his car offering to shovel us out. Even with this help, it took a while to free the vehicle. Cat litter we’d purposely left in the trunk provided essential traction for our spinning wheels. There was ice under the snow. The Samaritan didn’t leave until the car was on a clear road and the remaining snow removal was viable with our limited equipment. He said, “I hope someone will help me one day when I need it,” and drove off.

In another instance, a friend asked me for gift ideas for her Dad’s neighbors, a family with three young children. Her Dad lives alone in a house on Long Island which has been severely and consistently hit by December and January’s mega storms. His neighbors have routinely cleaned his driveway with their snow blower and if they’ve hired someone with more powerful equipment, they send the plow over to his driveway and pay for the service. They never ask; they just do it.

Do you have any snow-related thoughts and tales to share?

christmas2010-018

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