Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice. And Me.

I like to try to help people. (And animals, which I have already mentioned)

Sometimes this goes REALLY well. For example, my mother and I once helped a woman who was in extreme distress after her toddler locked himself (and her infant) in their car. In the summer. In North Carolina. (It ended well, but it was a little crazy for a few minutes.)

Sometimes it goes sort of well. Like last weekend, when I was getting into my friend's car in a parking garage and a man pulled up behind us and asked me for directions. I walked over to his car, and gave him directions through his opened window. I waved good bye and then went back and got into my friend's car.


"You should NEVER approach the car of someone you don't know! What if he was a serial killer? Seriously? In a PARKING GARAGE?!"

Oops. Good point. I'd never thought about it. I probably should have. But all was well that ended well.

And sometimes, the helper impulse just ... doesn't work at all. Like when I found another stray (seriously, it's like I'm the neighborhood stray cat whisperer) and was told by animal control that when I managed to find that purebred Himalayan, to give her a call ... but the shelters are overwhelmed right now and no one can take this cat. (If he's still around in a few weeks, I'm supposed to give her a call. If he doesn't get hit by a car or attacked by a wild animal or whatever.)

So if what she said is true, and I'm assuming it is, then I would like to adopt him myself. He's a friendly little guy. But I can't have more than one cat. (Even though this little guy, who I foolishly gave a name ... I call him Denver, because of a John Denver song ... and why am I even explaining this? Anyway, Denver wants to live with me. I know because when I go outside, he purrs and follows me around and tries to get into the building. I can hear him meowing outside because he doesn't understand why I won't let him in. It's ... horrible. But I'll keep feeding him and hoping I can figure out what to do with him ... anyone want a cat?) And so I don't know what to do and I feel terrible.

Overdeveloped helper gene. I have one.  Apparently, to the detriment of my own personal safety (but I'm working on that). When it works out, it's awesome.

When it doesn't? It's kind of awful.

However, the thing that I've noticed is that when I'm in helper mode -- when I'm involved in whatever the current rescue mission is (well, except for when I'm potentially making myself the victim of a serial killer) strangers and passersby THANK me for helping. But they never stop to help. They always say, "It's good that you're willing to do that" but they don't do anything themselves.

Or they look at me like I'm crazy for getting involved.

Which, okay, maybe not everyone wants to rescue animals. (Even though they should.) But it seems problematic to me that our first instincts are not to take care of each other when we can. To offer aid. To HELP. Instead, it seems that often, our first instincts are "Do not get involved. Protect yourself."

I can't do it. So I guess that I'll just keep trying to help whenever I can, no matter what the outcome. Because I know this: I'd rather try to help and have it end poorly than make no attempt at all. I can live with a bad outcome, but I can't live with myself if I could have done something and instead, did nothing.

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