Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No Service Without Risk

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to lead a life of service. Today I had an experience that made me realize that commitment to genuine service may require the acceptance of genuine risk.

Here's the scoop. I exited the grocery store and was called back by a woman standing outside the doors with a cart full of groceries. She was disheveled, distraught-looking, and spoke quietly: "Excuse me. My ride left without me. Can you give me a ride around the corner?" Shifty eye contact, hopping from foot to foot.

My knee-jerk response resulting from a lifelong love of horror movies and a childhood in Detroit: no way. You've got to be kidding. You really think I'm going to get in my car with a stranger and drive you to your lair? I bet you'll even ask me to help carry the bags in, where I'll be clubbed on the head and made into a dress or lampshade or bed for your little dog Precious. And don't you know that I'll get no pity? Don't you know what people will say when they discover my dismembered body? "I can't believe she did something so stupid. I can't believe she bought the whole 'I need a ride' story." This little monologue flew through my head with tickertape speed. What came out of my mouth at the end of it was something else entirely: "Okay then. Come on."

We loaded her groceries in the back of my car and made small talk while I drove to her apartment. "I'm Ree Ree." "I'm Kris." "I like this car." "Thanks!"

Was that enthusiasm or hysteria in my voice?

We pulled up to her building, one of the most rundown apartment complexes in my little city. I helped her unload the groceries. She said I could leave them on the porch. Like the girl in the horror movie whose sheer stupidity you lament when she opens the door to the Forbidden Room, thereby ensuring her own death, I offered to help her carry the groceries in. We made it to the door, where her roommate (husband? child? mother?) unlocked the door and left her to kick it open. I walked in with her to a spare, dirty kitchen and left the groceries on the counter.

"Well," she said, "Thanks. A lot of people wouldn't help out."
"Oh," I said, "I couldn't leave you abandoned there!" --as though it was the most natural thing in the world for me. Sure, yeah, I do this all the time.

I walked back to my car and drove home without a single bullet hole in my body and all my digits in place.

That's when it hit me that a life of service requires us to be willing to override everything we've been told about risk and stupidity. Was it stupid of me to give a stranger a ride home? Maybe, but it was the only way I could be of service to her. No service without risk. This little experience made me realize that sometimes I'd rather be helpful than smart.

What risky things have YOU done in the name of service?


Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Nice to see you posting again, Kris, as I have missed your wit and intelligence.

I make it a point to give money and have bought food to people on the streets who I think are suffering from mental illness. When I see someone talking to himself/herself, it is ususally a sign that this person is doing the best possible, and may be in a state where he/she is unable to help herself. So I help. It can be scarey at first, not knowing if the person you are helping will become violent or feel offended. Most people do not and are genuinely grateful for anything I give to them, even saying, God Bless you.

Not everything is what we think it is, as you saw today from your own act of service and kindness. Most people are not out there waiting to attack or become violent or respond strangly, but need a loving hand and caring heart.

6:56 PM, May 19, 2005  
Anonymous deb said...

sorry to do it this way--but HELLO YOU TWO! do you think blogging is a replacement for mua...a new way to reach friends and be able to speak your mind without direct contest? kris--you have beautiful perfume shelves and met a few bad days..i was right there with you and want to say that "that thing" when i left was also a cumulation of several dissapointments...sorry i didn't get to kow you better are sorely missed...i will visit here each day and read a piece of your (wonderful) mind...keep up the good work! deb/b94new

12:52 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Deb, you're a sweetie -- thank you! You know, I'm still checking MUA every day. I don't want to miss any perfume info! I can't read the body of the messages or the reviews, but that's okay. Here's the funny thing -- I feel like I'm getting to know my MUA sisters even better now that I'm an observer. And a week from today I get to meet Ruth (cjblue)! Woohoo! Anyway, thank you for your kind words. I'm so touched that you sought me out through my blog.


1:50 PM, May 21, 2005  
Anonymous indigodaisy said...

Ya know, my love, I wouldn't have done it. And I admire you very much for doing so. But I'm not sure I want you to do it again. [ said in friendship, you get me. ]
I'm sorry that I feel this way,, I wish this wasn't the world we lived in.
I think I would have offered to pay for a taxi for her. Or I would have gone to the store supervisor and told them that someone needed assistance. But, no, I won't give strangers a ride.
I use to hitchhike as a young teenager sometimes. Never alone, with my best girlfriend. This was in Marin County - not a dangerous place, especially then, I think it's changed a little in the last 20 years, but this was a very unsafe thing for us to do.
Ya know, we were never bothered. People, even grown men, who could have been very weird to us, were OK. Once a younger guy [jokingly] said we couldn't get out of the backseat..believe me, I got out, but all in all, the experiences were fine.
I think about this sometimes and I freak out about it today. I would never accept a ride with a stranger today.

again, I wish this weren't the world we live in.
i wish we didn't have to be afraid,,,
but it often is, and we do.


2:21 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Kate said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:48 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Kate said...

Hi Kris, we miss you!

It's funny, this post is about a problem that I have turned over and over in my head MANY times. I think you have to go with your gut on this.

I have picked up hitchikers, since I used to hitchhike myself, I feel I should. But sometimes I get a creepy feeling, and I wish I hadn't done it. But I haven't been hurt, luckily.

For me, a small, unarmed woman... picking up a male hitcher who may have a weapon... maybe it's not such a great idea. For a male driver to pick me up is less of a risk, although he may not know if I'm armed or not.

For a black person driving in the south, he could be taking his life in his hands picking up a white person.

I was raised to be a good samaritian, and I want to be. But I want to have reasonable boundries too. I have a hard time making up my mind in these situations, and I am inconsistant in my response, depending on how I feel in the moment.

Anyway, it's a very interesting topic to me, so write me if you want to chat more about it. -Kate123

4:48 PM

4:54 PM, May 21, 2005  
Blogger Jonniker said...

I did this recently, too. I saw a thin, slight young Asian man fiddling with his car which was parked in the middle of the street near my house. I stopped and asked him if he needed help.

The poor kid was out of gas. I took him to the gas station, my car full of groceries, to get him a containerful enough to drive there himself. When he was in thes station buying the gas, I called Adam to let him know I'd be late and what I'd done. He FAH-REEEKED out on me about the risks I took and how I could have been murdered.

He's right, of course, but funny how it didn't even occur to me? I just took Sun - a sweet young man whose family owned a Thai restaurant in Salem - to his car and went home.

I wasn't murdered, obviously. I think, like anything, you just have to go with your gut and take a calculated risk. I'm not sorry I'm the type to pick up strangers or give extra money to "homeless" people even though I've been burned (a man I gave $10 to once, I later saw in Borders bookstore buying a Tai Chi magazine) because you know, there are real people out there who need help.

I'll take the risk. I will!

3:41 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

"a man I gave $10 to once, I later saw in Borders bookstore buying a Tai Chi magazine"

That is priceless.

7:18 PM, May 22, 2005  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

You are kind Kris. Even when its not easy. I admire that.

What do I do to be of service? Not enough. I give money to the children's hospital, various animal welfare causes, and our local christmas charities.

I need to start giving my time. That is worth more. As you can see, so many people are just dying for a touch of human kindness, face to face, one on one.

9:38 AM, June 03, 2005  

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