The first time the Karma Badgers planned to spend a Saturday morning volunteering at It’s My Park Day re-planting a community park, I mentioned my plans to a friend. Her response was to say that was an “unselfish” way to spend part of my weekend. I disagree: I got a lot out of taking a part of my day to volunteer. I was able to spend the day getting to know a new friends better, playing with plants in the dirt, and spending the morning outside (yay vitamin D!).
But then I was the recipient of a truly unselfish act.
After the Karma Badgers were done working at Bartholomew Park, a few of us went to have lunch and a beer. And as we left lunch separating on the way to our cars in the parking lot, I found my flat tire. Ugh.
Now, ironically I have all the tools I need to get myself out of basic car related jams – jumper cables, jacks, etc – however I am marginally inept at feeling like I can change a tire or jump my car on my own. (Yes, I understand that technically I need a second car to jump my car’s battery, but you get my point.)
As one of the women I had been volunteering with and I started pulling the tools out of my trunk, a man walking back to his car with his takeout in hand stopped. Joe said seven words: Let me change that tire for you.
Joe proceeded to change my tire for me, showed me how to do it and what to look for, gave me some advice, and told me about a new dog park. And as he was finishing, he suggested that he follow me to a gas station to add air to the other tires and the spare (turns out if a spare sits in your trunk for nine years, it loses air too – who knew?).
All in all Joe, who had wanted to stop by Paco’s Tacos to pick up lunch on his way home, spent a good 30-45 minutes helping someone he didn’t know and would likely never see again change their tire – with no expectation of anything in return. Now THAT is an unselfish act. THAT is giving back to community and frankly, building a sense of community, one person at a time.
Joe reminded me of another key part of what it means to give back – when we give back, through an organized volunteer effort or through a random act of kindness, we change lives. Whether we see it or not, there is an impact. I will never see what impact the work I did earlier that morning will have on the families that use that park. And it’s likely that while Joe did see how grateful I was, he doesn’t really understand the scope of the impact his actions had on me.
Today Joe embodies how one person’s willingness to help another is what we really all are here for. If each day I can’t find a way to help another person, then I’m not paying enough attention to the people around me. And I am missing out on the best part of the road we travel down.
Thank you Joe. Thank you for that unselfish act that helped me get back on the road, and for reminding me that the road I want to be traveling is paved with opportunities to give back daily, incrementally, and often.