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Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It has occurred to me numerous times in my life that I'm a helper. I do things for people. I help out. It started as a skinny energetic child in Idaho helping Mom in the kitchen and around the house. You couldn't get me outside to save my life -- I absolutely hated being outside. So much so that Mom would put me in my winter coat, put me outdoors, and lock the kitchen door behind me. Just to get me outside. I would lay by the door and cry. And fall asleep. I wanted to be indoors! Helping, apparently. If it was in the kitchen, I was there....or cleaning the bathroom, I did it. I babysat regularly from the time I was 10. They didn't just get a babysitting job out of me -- I cleaned their houses, vacuumed, did dishes, the whole lot. I was a helper.

I spend my current life in the helping mode. It's part of my career now.

  • What do I do with my stroller? You leave it right here by the boarding door....it will be waiting for you in Los Angeles....minus your child.
  • Where is seat 15C? Out the back door, turn right, it is an aisle seat on the right-side at row 15.
  • What are we going to be served for lunch today? Nothing.
  • Are they going to hold the flight to Medford for me? No.
  • Which gate are we arriving today? N1 on the North Satellite.
  • Which way to the baggage claim area? Follow the signs....to Milwaukee.
  • Can you lift my carry-on bag down for me? Umm, sure. (Good attitude ensues...)
And it goes on and on. I started to count the number of times I was asked questions on my one, simple round-trip to Orange County and back this morning. I lost count. I had full intentions of writing this post and was sort of interested in how often it happens. It is nonstop from the time I get to work until I strip off the blue polyester in my hotel room, or home, at the end of the day. It happens even in the grocery store and in hotel lobbies. I think the uniform is a magnet.

But even outside work, I find myself just in that helper mode. Without even trying to. I see people needing the door held open, and I do it. I see the waitress coming with food for our table and I'm automatically starting to clear space for her to set down the plates. I stack the plates at the end and gather the trash together. Something falls to the floor in the grocery store, and I'm down there picking it up. I have spent the last numerous years of my life helping family members, inlaws, and friends. Seems like someone always needs advice, money, or a visit. It's just automated, built in, ingrained. I'm not sure when it happened, where it came from, or how it all got started.

I've thought for a very long time about the number of people in our world who need help. And its overwhelming. There are far more who actually need help than actually provide help, it occurs to me. There are a million opportunities each day for me to provide assistance or answer questions for people. Partly because of my particular job. Partly because I'm probably looking for the chance to point someone in the right direction.

But sometimes, I hide. I'm tired of it. I don't want to answer any more questions....especially the ones that I've judged to be silly or stupid. And there are plenty of those. And I definitely cast judgment on them quickly and easily. Shame on me. Being a helper is endless and thankless. Those who need help suck the life out of those who help them. They need something, we have the answer, we provide them the help, they take it, they walk on. But just this morning, it occurred to me that it is part of my calling in this screwed-up world. To help. It is definitely my gift. I'm good at it and function well within its parameters. I think I just plain old need to embrace it, enjoy it, go with it. And most of the time I do.

Anybody need help? Give me a call.


DanNation said...

I was telling the same thing to my therapist today about myself. Then I jumped on the emergency slide and left his office.

LeLo said...

When Wink went blind you jumped in and were so wonderful and kind in supporting us, coming over, and checking in. If I didn't say thank you then, I'm saying it now. THANK YOU. You showed me what good people do in times like that. xoxox

Dave2 said...

Nice to know I can count on you for a helping hand when I need it!

Hmmm... that sounded different in my head... :-)

Ur-spo said...

The Helper is a marvelous archetype - thank goodness people like you are in touch with it.
Be careful though it doesn't get in cahoots with The Martyr. Ugly combination, that.

Lemuel said...

Somehow I got the virus, too. It is how I think all people ought to approach each other. What I do not understand are the folks who can help and do not , even something as simple as holding the door for someone with hands full. Perhaps there are those who take advantage of those of us who are helpers, but I would rather go to my grave as a helper.

LSL said...

I love this about you. :) I know it's not easy and it comes with an extra burden of the heart, but you have a gift and you are a gift. I'm glad I know you, Lewis. And I think you know . . . I hope you know . . . you can call me, too!

Anne said...

brother, just today someone told me that you helped them out when they were looking for me mid-80s. you told them i went somewhere and was living with someone. you helped as much as you could, with what knowledge you had. most people would have said, "screw her. no idea".

hmmmmm. you have always been there for me, and sometimes i think i learned some things from you. such as........judging things to be silly or stupid, period.

i love you and THANK YOU!!!!! for helping all you've helped over the last 68...58....48 years.

BosGuy said...

You're natural inclination to help others may be one of the reasons you gravitated to your industry. It is a talent many lack as you duly noted.

I always try to make it a point if I see visitors in my home town out with a map to approach them and inquire if I can assist them. Boston is not an easy town to navigate and many people are reticent to ask for help.

I like the theme of this post and will try to be conscious of being more helpful.

CJ/Rick said...

Carry your ass down here to southeast TX and help me out. I've got a long list of chores and I can already see they're not going to get done this weekend.
I like it when I hold open a door and they go for the one next to it:I am woman hear me roar!

RAD said...

you are a total helper and thats very very cool!

Now about some help - I have the PERFECT thing you can help me with the next time we see each other! wink wink