On Christmas Eve, I set off early for my daily walk-a-jog. The weather had closed in and that meant no jogging but I took my umbrella. Rain never stopped me from at least a brisk walk.

True enough the clouds burst and it came down in sheets.

I spotted a wheel-chair bound man, about my age, sixties, and he had a piece of newspaper on his head. He was trapped under a train track, hardly a shelter as the slanting rain would drench him in no time. I asked if he needed to get to a neighbouring block of flats. He replied yes, and I offered to shelter him under my umbrella. Interestingly, he rejected my offer of help and was quite rude about it.

‘You think what, I’m a cripple is it?’ he snapped in Singlish.

Whoa! I said nothing of the sort but, yes, it was a fact you are wheelchair bound. But I offered you my umbrella because of the rain. I would have done it for any able bodied person too.

But all I said was, ‘No worries,’ smiled and continued with my walk.

The next day, Christmas, I had a heavy lunch and decided to skip dinner. As added penance, I took a longer route to burn off more calories. But again the rain came down and I found myself trapped under an apartment block.

While under shelter, the alarm at the lift landing went off. It was a senior citizens’ block and the studio apartments came specially fitted with handrails and in-unit trigger alarms. A red strobe light flashed and the message on the LED screen read—please offer assistance to the unit number indicated. There was also a wall placard with several numbers for the neighbourhood police post, the ambulance and the fire brigade. One could either offer assistance or call the authorities.

As they were only a five-minute drive away, I called the neighbourhood police post and the officer assured me a car will be dispatched. But after twenty minutes, no sight of the police – the heavy seasonal rains had probably stretched their resources. Other people who had taken shelter, and even the residents who came and went, tried very hard not to hear the ear-splitting alarm.

I rode the lift up and knocked on the apartment door. No response. I knocked again and waited. Old folks usually took longer to get to the door—or worse. Meanwhile, the alarm had stopped.

The door finally opened and a very irate man, in his seventies, scowled. I asked whether everything was okay. But he very abruptly told me to, ‘Get lost’. I was concerned. Seeing how belligerent he was, maybe he had beaten up his frail wife or something, and she could have hit the help button. In my younger days I had been on police patrols and encountered the worst in society. My mind raced. I persisted, but politely, of course.

Sensing that I will not relent, he very reluctantly told me the alarm was defective. ‘Go away!’ and the door resolutely shut.

Lisa, ever protective (bless her), suggested I should not bother. She was upset that I exposed myself to slights and insults from people I wanted to help.

My sentiments—these people are not my teachers.

I am sure many of you have similar or worse stories. Care to share?

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***

29 comments

  1. When I lived in Brookline, MA, near Coolidge Corner, during the winter I helped many a stranded driver who got stuck in a snowbank or couldn’t get out of a parking space.
    I’d stand behind their car and push, rocking it back and forth, the tires spinning and spitting slush all over me.

    Eventually, the car was free and, nine times out of ten, I would not get even a thank you. They would simply speed off, fishtailing away from me. I’d stand there, drenched from my efforts, puzzled by their rudeness.

    This is but one of many instances where I have tried to help folk in need but have been rebuffed or, as before, encountered ungrateful people. It still amazes me to this day, even if it is something as simple as opening a door for someone, a woman or man, and get no response. I suppose to some, uttering a monosyllabic word such as ‘Thanks.’ doesn’t enter their ill-mannered soul.

    Anyway, good story. Keep up the good work of being that good Samaritan.

    Take care, my friend!
    Paul 🙂

    1. Dear Paul,

      Thank you for sharing. What you did was wonderful – going out of your way and, in the process, getting messed up by slush. I doubt I would have done that.

      I also recall a few years ago when snow blanketed the road near your house, you brewed hot coffee and served the drivers stuck in their vehicles. That was generous too – and braving the cold.

      Obviously, you march to a different banner – one worth emulating.

      All good wishes, my friend 🙂
      Eric

  2. I was wondering what to comment when this thought entered…could it be that we are so un-used to receiving genuine help from people that we expect the worse..and therefore act like that? Hmm..

    1. Hello Shree,

      You are right. Sometimes we prejudge; expect the worse; and, not prepared for something pleasant. And that catches us by surprise and we let the moment slip.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  3. At least you tried, Eric. Sometimes, even being nice can be the wrong choice at the wrong time, I suppose.
    Just a few weeks ago, I was in the post office, about to enter through the doors. There was a gentleman standing with his back near them, and as I stepped forward, he did a u-turn as if to enter through them, as well. Well, me, being the nice person I am, motioned for him to go ahead of me because he was there first (hard to explain). Instead of being gracious, he looked at me, scowling, and said, “do I have to tell you where I’m going?” It didn’t even make sense. I responded by saying, “YOU were here first, so I’m letting you go ahead of me.” Ahh…then he walked away.
    It was the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced. Of course, I’ve experienced rude people before, but this was weird. Anyway, all we can do is show kindness, and if it’s not received gratefully, then there’s not much else we can do.
    Just keep doing it, and at some point, someone will need the help, they’ll accept it, and both hearts will be warmed.

    1. Thank you, Lauren,

      Much appreciate your sharing. You did right and it’s a pity the man bungled an opportunity to be nice.

      After an encounter (good or bad), quite often I reflect. With time and distance, I found these reflections useful. I learn much. What to do/not to do, say/not to say, and etc.

      I wonder whether these people, who had been less than gracious, reflect. I also console myself that just because help was offered, that does not oblige them to accept. Then again, one can decline in a polite manner. Oh, well.

      All good wishes,
      Eric

  4. “Never tire of doing what is good.” One of the words I still cling to. However life is unpredictable, and so are people. Yes I too have had a similar experience. In my case, a woman was angry with me because I had, without her asking, offered to help her and son (both had been on a queue for about an hour) with a message on an electronic visual display.

    She chided me in Igbo, saying, “You want to show me you went to school, eh?”

    1. Dear Uzo,

      I like that – “Never tire of doing what is good.” Simple and to the point, and easy to recall.

      Poor woman.

      Keep doing the right thing, my friend,
      Eric

  5. This reminds me of my college roommate who had polio as a child and had difficulties walking. She taught me that if she needed help she would ask me, otherwise she wanted to manage on her own. I’ve never forgotten her wise words.

  6. I know what you mean. I visit a man at a nearby facility who has terminal cancer. I knew him casually before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer but felt sorry for his plight so visit him when I can. His wife was quite antagonistic initially but as they don’t have any family to help I persevered and slowly she is softening her attitude though I doubt she will ever be happy. You can’t help people who are not willing to help themselves but at least you can try as you so valiantly did.

    1. Good of you, Ian,

      Your perseverance might win her over yet. I believe the man welcomes your visits.

      But you are right – some people are simply unwilling to accept help or help themselves. It would be interesting to learn their views – I am sure it will be an eye opener.

      Peace,
      Eric

  7. Early last year I managed to slip a disc and pinch a nerve inflicting enough pain to put me in a wheelchair for a while; then after reconstruction surgery I slowly progressed from wheelchair to walker to eventual full restored mobility. During the whole ordeal I was humbled and amazed at the outgoing kindness and assistance offered to me by complete strangers. I always accepted help and was most grateful. I wonder whether those in permanent disability or pain react differently because they are stuck where they are, or maybe constant pain makes them resent others? I applaud your outgoing response to others and urge you to continue regardless of their disappointing responses. The world needs people like you!

    1. Hello Jane,

      That must have been some ordeal – wheelchair bound – but you made it! God bless!

      You are right. Different people in a given situation react differently – and who are we to judge when we have not walked in their shoes.

      Yes, I will continue to do what I have always done.

      Peace,
      Eric

  8. You tried. Some people are just miserable and ungrateful. The problem occurs when their rejection puts you/ us off offering help to others in the future who may be more reception to accepting help or attention and be thankful for it.

    1. Hello Sarah,

      You are right, some become cautious and even stop helping others. That would make losers of everyone.

      The aim is to stay the course, I reckon.

      Cheers!
      Eric

  9. Hi Eric – you’ve run into the Murphy’s law, stating “No good deed goes unpunished”, but, I’m still glad you did it. Our humanity is confirmed in reaching out to one another.

    I used to work nights doing a consulting job in Downtown Cleveland. At that time, downtown Cleveland at night was like the movies that are post-apocolyptic.. the only
    thing moving was the litter blowing through the cold empty winter streets.

    The city had steam vents, that often were warmer than the surrounding sidewalk, and
    homeless would often setup their sleeping bags on them, and huddle over them. I
    usually worked until midnight or so, and would pass them by on my way to my car. If
    I had cash, I’d usually give one or two $5, or $10, or $20, depending on what cash
    I had.

    One night, coming out I happened to see one of the regulars, and gave him a $10.00 bill. He must have been showing it around, for as I was a few steps away, I heard a
    roar, and another guy had come from around the corner, and the two were fighting
    like wild lions for the money. So instead of helping the poor fellow, I managed to
    get him beaten up !

    1. Hello Bill,

      Trust all is well in your neck of the woods. You’ve not blogged lately, I see.

      I can well imagine downtown Cleveland at night – your description was spot on and brought out the visuals.

      Regarding your cash help that turned into a fight – that must have really sucked, at least, that is how I would have felt. But I still think you did right.

      Bless you,
      Eric

  10. I bet you the police already know this particular unit faulty alarm but are not telling you so as not to dissuade kind soul to offer help. The other residents and passers-by also know it too, it was all a set up, you are on some reality TV show prank. Did you see any hidden cameras ? Sorry, poor joke on my part but you never know. You might already be in some U-tube all over the world.

    In any case, you should give yourself a tab for doing the right thing and extending kindness. The world is very lack of this but does not know how to embrace gracefully when help is offered. I am always grateful when I receive help and believe in my heart God sends a guardian angel to my aid. Be joyful that on such days you had been the godsend, but the recipient failed to notice.

    1. Ah, reality show prank 🙂 You do have an imagination, Windy dear 🙂

      Reminds me of the idiotic Singapore cabinet minister who said old folks collect cardboards (not to sell to pay for their daily meals) but because they need the exercise. And this from an elected minister who collects a multi-million dollar salary to serve the people.

      Yes, I’ve had people appear out of nowhere to help me and am always grateful for the angels god sends. I wrote about one such incident >>> Remove One Straw.

      Have a great week ahead,
      Eric

    2. I read again your Remove One Straw. That is the exact feeling. The help comes in different form. We just have to appreciate it.

      As for the minister, there is one that said he eventually paid $8 for a heart operation. What class ward is our minister staying in that had so much subsidy, how come the commoners like us has to pay more. So our ministers usually have views and experiences that we are not blessed with. Too bad.

  11. One can offer the help, sometimes repeatedly if necessary. The rest is up to the individual needing the help. If they refuse, they are either bitter over some bad experience perhaps, or just rude or maybe have a mental illness of some kind we’re not aware of. If they just don’t want anyone’s help, one can only do the other thing expected of them. iI they’re a Christian they can pray, and leave the rest up to God. Ultimately it is only Him who can change a life and soften a hard heart, and stubborn mind.

    1. Hello Joyce,

      I totally agree. Offer help and if rejected – even rudely – shake the dust off one’e feet and move on.

      We seek no returns and expect no gratitude. We do it because it is the right thing to do – and leave the rest to Him.

      Peace,
      Eric

      1. Very true. That’s what Jesus told his diciples to do too. 🙂 “…shake the dust off their feet if they were not accepted. 🙂 He never guaranteed we would suceed. We can only try to help and accept one’s choice to refuse it.

  12. I had a similar sort of experience with a guy in a wheelchair. He is a regular visitor to the local late bars in his wheelchair and fairly well known to most people. On this particular occasion he caught me on my own and took it upon himself to “try his luck.” I wasn’t looking for a new man in my life and essentially just thought, “oh here we again, another one hitting on an apparantly single woman…” Initial thoughts were not to brush him off same as anyone else I wasn’t interested in, because he was in a wheelchair, so best handle it differently. Then I remembered the outcry from people in his position who want to be treated the same as an able bodied person and definitely not treated differently…so I didn’t! And did it go down badly or not! I was, he decided behaving in that way because he was in a wheelchair!! Really? Actually that was precisely the same way I respond to all unwanted male attention of that nature in a bar/club!! No winning with some people!! 😉

    1. Hello Wolfie,

      Welcome and how have you been? Good to have you visit 🙂

      You’re right – there is no winning with some people. It is a pity really. There are many people in society who demand to be treated equally while shamelessly milking all they can from their situation.

      All good wishes for the week ahead,
      Eric

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