Friends:

I would like to think that at heart I generally like people. I know that this sounds funny to say, but when you interact with people, especially strangers; it is fairly simple to determine who likes people and who doesn’t. It can be from the way that they make eye contact or the method of their greeting or even just how much of an interest they take in you. For the most part I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, that they are just like me and have no real grumble with society as a whole and people individually. And this is a tough thing to do, especially in a world such as ours when we don’t know where the next terrorist act will take place, or the next racial epithet sounded, or the next honked horn and road rage assault. Wouldn’t we all like to go back to the 1950s, when people didn’t need to worry about locking their doors and trusting people was an easy thing to do, not a risky thing?

This thought occurred to me this past weekend as I experienced car trouble and had to rely on strangers to provide assistance. Look, no one likes to have car trouble—in fact, it always comes at the wrong time, and in the wrong place and for the wrong reason. For me, it was some kind of a computer malfunction in the car that only has 1300 miles on it. But when the warning lights on the dashboard start flashing and the brake system signals a malfunction, you get off the road immediately and figure out the rest from there.

So there we were, the four of us on the way to Pomona for our annual trip to the fair for deep fried whatevers (this year it was deep fried Klondike bars) and the lights flashed and a quick exit from the freeway was in order. After alerting the dealership to the issue, we were instructed to wait for a tow truck to take the car, and all of us, back to the dealership in Valencia. We were at a gas station in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people around, waiting for an unfamiliar person to take my car and my entire family, back to the dealership. And might I add that it was already 100 degrees at 10:30am.

When you have some sort of car trouble like that, you are likely more than frustrated; your plans have been thwarted and now you have to deal with many unknowns—the problem with your car, your current location and the people who you will depend upon to help you.

I have had car trouble on a few prior occasions and this is what I have always experienced— whether there to tow the truck to the dealership, to change the flat tire, to bring gas (never happened to me, knock on wood) or jump start the car, the tow truck drivers have always been exceptional. Maybe I am lucky, but for some reason my experiences with them have always been positive. Maybe it’s that they appreciate that I am upset because of the car trouble or maybe it’s because they see that their job is to help people, the tow truck drivers have always been incredibly kind and helpful. Not necessarily the most talkative of people, but gracious and accommodating nonetheless.

For example, there are a lot of things that I dislike doing—one of them is putting my younger daughter’s car seat in the car; once it’s in, I would prefer that it stay in because getting it locked in is a complete pain in the you-know-what. But because the car had to be towed back to the dealership, it meant that the whole family had to be towed back. Before I could even offer to help or ask how we were going to make it happen, the tow truck driver had already picked up the car seat, heaved it up into the truck’s cab and strapped it down in the back seat for Kensi. That alone was enough to make my day. Mind you that this was after he had arrived and immediately had introduced himself to me and shook my hand. I am a huge believer in the handshake because I find it to be a personal and civilized way of greeting people. And it immediately put me better at ease- here is a guy who wants to shake my hand, introduced himself to me and in that brief instant showed me that he understood the importance of his task, not only to get my car to the dealership safely, but to get my family there safely as well.

I know that we as people tend to categorize others based on their profession or social status, but what do we really accomplish by doing that? Nothing. There are good people out there; wait, I will rephrase. There are more good people out there than bad. And it is always comforting when you run into them, even through chance encounters, and realize that you were right in having faith in people as a whole.

Have a great week.

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