Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is There A Good Samaratin In Utah?


I've been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to figure out how I am going to tell you this story. I'm still trying to comprehend it myself, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know. A week ago I was coming home from a meeting at Thanksgiving Point, and on my way up I-15 to the point of the mountain I spotted a mini-van pulled off to the side of the road with its flashers on. As I flew past I could see a distraught mother on a cell phone and at least one child in the back seat. I slowed down and pulled over but since I was going 80 mph and driving in the far lane I stopped about 200 yards in front of the van. It was pretty far to walk, and I didn't want to back the car up, so I drove OVER the point of the mountain, got off at the Draper exit and drove back OVER the mountain to the Highland exit before finally pulling behind the van. I put my emergency flashers on and walked up to the car.

The side door was open and in the car were FIVE children ages 9-9months. It was easily 90+ degrees. The woman (Jennifer) told me that her car had died and she had spent the last hour trying to call Triple A and her husband to tow her out of harms way. I inquired, how many people have stopped to help you out? "You are the only one, and I have been here for over an hour." I was instantly PISSED! A woman with five kids, stranded on I-15 for over an hour and NO ONE STOPPED! I felt horribly bad for her and decided that whatever I had planned for the day could wait, and that SHE was my most important task. I spent the next four hours getting the car towed to Checker Auto, getting Jennifer and her kids to Ikea so they would have a cool place to hang out while I replaced her alternator in the parking lot.

My point here is not to brag about my good deeds, but to try and understand WHY no one helped? I remember the first time our family pulled off of the side of the road in the Midwest. I don't think two cars went by before someone jumped out to offer assistance. This was ALWAYS the case. To a larger extent my dad instilled the Good Samaritan virtues in me and I'm pretty sure his father in him. My boys get heavy doses of it from me as well because I think it's important. Maybe it's a family thing or a geographical thing. But to have it happen in the heart of Utah is just baffling to me. I can recite six or seven priesthood lessons that talked about this exact thing, and I can assure you that in an hours time, more than one priesthood holder sped right on by this family.

One of the things that I love most about this Country is our ability to come together. I think of some of our recent tragedies (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the Iowa Floods etc) and am delighted to see average Americans who hear the call and just GO. No one asks, no one demands or enlists, we just go because we are Americans and they need our help. I think that's why it is foreign for most Americans to see other countries who brutalize their citizens and oppress different classes be they ethnic, religious or economic. Sure, our country has its issues. We are like a huge family that squabbles and bickers about a lot of things, but when it comes to crunch time we seem to have a genuine spirit of pulling together. It's one of the things I love about my people.

So I am going to redouble my efforts to be more kind and more aware of other people. I know what it's like to be that car stranded off the side of the road and I have been tremendously blessed by those who have picked up my flag and come to my rescue. The experience always restores my faith in humanity and in the American Spirit. And I'll tell you a little secret, it comes back. It always comes back when you do good things for other people.

6 comments:

Alicia said...

I bet when she saw you pull off the road, then get back on the road she thought "HOLY CRAP!! MY ONLY *POTENTIAL* HELP IN AN HOUR IS GONE!!" When you came back, I'm sure she was singing your praises.

I love the fact that you bring up the countless Conference and Church talks we have about this subject and yet member after member passed her. Were they "too busy" to help her? Maybe. But so were you!

And that's the point of the Good Samaratin story!! The Samaratin didn't help because he was going that way and needed to find some way to blow his time and money! No, he went out of his way to bind up his wounds, take him to an inn, pay for everything and then say, "whatever else he needs, put it on my tab. I'll be back later to pay."

And everyone always thinks that they CAN'T help. Cause they have somewhere to be, or they have so much to do. Well, don't you think that this lady had somwhere to be and things to do? I'm sure her day was ruined even more, especially because she was the one with the busted up car!!

I think this was a great example to me to BE THAT GUY. Be the one that pulls over and helps. Be the one that takes tie out to help another. Be the Samaratin that we always say we are, that we all want to be. Just do it!

I am glad your father taught you good principles. I'm sure she wasn't the last person that will benefit from them

Chelsea said...

i can't believe she was there an hour and NO ONE stopped! that is beyond me. i've been lucky to have received unbelievable quick assistance whenever i've pulled off. in rush hour traffic, one guy literally pulled off at the same time i did to offer his assistance. another time, our car was on fire and someone made a u-turn to come help us before we had completely pulled over. i've had a couple other experiences like that.

but like you said, it's karma and i try to help when i can. it's hard b/c i'm either a lone woman in the car or have kids w/ me and unfortunately it's not smart for me to pull over in some cases.

Lisa said...

You are always willing to help someone pulled over, no matter what your schedule is. Even if it means spending the rest of your day helping them. You are awesome. This reminds me of my experience about six weeks ago. The van tire SHREDDED on I-15 on my way to work. I got to the gas station off the exit. I was in my scrubs, and worked for over 20 minutes getting out the jack, jacking up the van, etc. I can not tell you how many men stood and pumped gas into their $40K SUV's and watched me,finished pumping gas, got in their SUV and drove away. Finally three guys walked up and insisted I go in and get a cold drink while they finish it up for me. One guy even sliced his hand open while working on it. They were FURIOUS when they found out how long I had been there. But I think you are right, that just doesn't happen in the midwest. Usually SEVERAL cars pull over with in a couple minutes! It's a slower paced life there and people know the value of just being good people. Same reason there was absolutely NO looting during the Iowa floods.....it's just not something midwesterners would do....ever. A big thank you to the guys that helped me!

Katrina said...

I'm so glad that you stopped! Usually someone with a cell phone can get through to someone pretty quick for help.

It is amazing that people can't seem to find a minute to help. Others can't seem to get enough of it. Just found out that two of my childhood favorites had service to me and my country that I'd never thought of.

Check out the military careers of Mr. Rogers, and Captain Kangaroo.

"Mr. Rogers was a U.S. Navy Seal, combat-proven in Vietnam with over twenty-five confirmed kills to his name. He wore a long-sleeved sweater on TV, to cover the many tattoos on his forearm and biceps."

and

"Bullets flying by, with mortar rounds landing everywhere and he stood there as the main target of gunfire so that he could get his men to safety. He did this on more than one occasion because his men's safety was more important than his own life. "

God bless those who are lookin' out for the rest of us. :D Proud of you 'bro!

Abigail said...

Joel,

Thanks for that story. You are such a great person. You are always trying to make me feel good and I was not suprised that you would do something that great for someone after reading your experience. Thanks for making my day better. It made me realize that I need to serve more. Thanks for coming yesterday, and thank you for bringing that letter. It made my entire day. I am still baffled at how incredibly nice that was to recognize me enough to send a letter to corporate. You will have many more good come back to you for all that you do for people.

Anonymous said...

You are the wind beneath my wings.
--Kaiser