Be Strong To Be Useful Or Just Plain Be Useful

I think to truly understand the phrase “Be strong to be useful,” you can simply modify it to: “Be useful.On Saturday, Charles Moreland and I were driving back from the grocery store. We were already 20 minutes late to our own party, it was raining, cold, and there were 30mph gusts. While at a stop light, Charles noticed a van in the intersection across from us. It was stopped in the left turn lane, cars were going around it, and all the lights were off. The lights came back on, briefly, and then went out again. Clearly, their car was dead.

Immediately, and pretty much without speaking, it was agreed that we’d pull into the nearest parking lot, don our jackets and gloves, and run into the middle of the road to help. We walked up to the car, and I waved. The old russian man cracked the door open suspiciously, as I announced that we were here to help. “I already called Triple A” he said. “They’ll be here within the hour.” I waved my hand toward the oncoming cars. “It’s not safe for you to be in this intersection. Throw the car in neutral and we’re going to push you into the parking lot.I think there was a bit of a language barrier, and a bit of suspicion about these random boys who showed up out of no where to help, but once we got behind the car and started to push, he shifted into neutral and steered. Once we got out of the intersection, we pushed the car (uphill! Damn minivans are heavy.) through the road and into a parking space. I noticed about halfway through, whenever he could, the old man opened the door and tried to help push with his foot.

We got to the parking space, he put it in park, and he and his wife got out of the car and thanked us profusely. She asked us if we were in school, and if we were done with calculus yet (she is a calculus tutor at a local high school apparently), and she gave us her card. The man shook our hands and thanked us many times. I gave them my card and told them to call me if they needed any more help - I lived just five minutes away.

Getting out of my car to help two complete strangers in need? To me, this is more parkour than the biggest prevision, the furthest kong to cat, or the largest drop.

Written on January 3, 2009