“Excuse me. Do you need a hand?”
Yesterday, the baby-faced checker turned around and offered his help to the woman at the register behind him. She was in one of those scooter carts and couldn’t reach the groceries in its basket.
Obviously people had helped her throughout the store. The eggs were safely placed at the back of the basket along with some produce.
“Be careful with those,” she said, as he put the eggs on the belt.
“Handle them gently,” she cautioned, as he picked up a bag with tomatoes in it.
He apologized to me when he finally turned to start scanning my groceries. He was a big boy, tall, broad, with round cheeks and curly hair. I’m sure this was his first job, and it was obvious that he had been raised right.
“No worries,” I said. “I’m glad you could help her.”
We are always surrounded by people who need help. Sometimes they ask — like the lady who asked me if I knew anything about clams, again at the grocery store.
“Umm, no, I really don’t,” I told her. “Sorry.”
She sighed a heavy sigh. “The recipe calls for littleneck clams and he doesn’t have any.” She nodded her head toward the man at the fish counter. “He has other kinds, but he admitted that he doesn’t know the difference between them.”
“Let’s ask Siri,” I said, pulling out my phone.
Siri and I are besties. My children groan when I ask her questions. I was glad none of them were with me.
Siri pulled up a webpage about clams — and, at the same time, the man at the fish counter had my order ready. I handed my phone to the lady so she could read the information and went to get my order.
“Wait –” Laurel said, when I was telling her the story. “You handed your phone to a total stranger?!”
“She had a little girl with her,” I said, “and I was standing right there.” I wasn’t terribly worried about my phone.
My friend Amy, the one organizing the trip to Bosnia, told me how her Bosnia connection had begun. Many years ago she and her husband had seen a family huddled together at one of the New York airports wearing colored tags that identified them as refugees. “Can we help you?” they asked — and thus began a lifelong friendship.
I have a friend traveling today to Haiti with her husband, one of many steps in their long road to adoption. I hope people help them along the way — as they themselves go to help.
Sometimes people need physical help. Sometimes they’re lost. Sometimes they’re just knackered and need a little encouragement.
The world is a better place when we look for ways to help.
The collage above is only two pictures — the little girl from Humpty Dumpty’s Holiday Stories illustrated by Kelly Oechsli, and the old man from A Boy Who Wants a Dinosaur by Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura. They just seemed to belong together.