The Help

I navigated my Suburban into the store’s parking lot and slowed as the man in spandex workout shorts flagged me down.


I rolled my window down and waited.


Hi mayam, Ah have my baby in the truck and mah battery is dead. Can ya’ll help meh?”


I didn’t see a baby, but when I looked toward where he pointed, I saw a baby seat near the curb. It was 8AM and at least 90 degrees. My suspicion peaked, mainly because I’ve heard so many stories of scams involving a baby or a puppy used to lure hapless victims to their deaths.


No I can’t. I’m meeting a friend inside.”


He looked resigned at my answer.


But I’ll ask around and see if someone can come help you,” I offered weakly.


He nodded. “Thanks, mayam.”


I found my friend and told her what happened. “That makes me nervous too,” she said. “Doesn’t he have a phone?”


“I guess not? Or maybe he doesn’t know anyone in town?” I looked back through the store door and into the parking lot and wondered why he didn’t call AAA or a friend. He was still standing there, and my eyes flicked over the baby on the curb and the seemingly dead truck.


I approached the store clerk. “Would you be able to send someone to help the man in the parking lot? His truck won’t start.


She looked uninterested.


And he has a baby.”


She didn’t look up. “We don’t do that. Maybe someone over there can help.” She beckoned to the store exit.


I approached some customers who were leaving together and explained about the man. I figured if the spandex guy were a serial killer, he’d have trouble taking more than one person and so they’d probably live.


They didn’t look at me either, but said, “No, we don’t have time,” and scurried out the door.


Turned out no one had time or “didn’t do that,” and then it occurred to me that I could help. I had a friend in the store. There were two of us. And the guy was probably just a guy with a baby and a truck that wouldn’t start.


I tapped my friend on the shoulder. “Will you go with me?”


Reluctantly she agreed, and we headed out into the parking lot.


I caught his eye. “We’ll help you.”


Oh mayam. Thank ya’ll. It’s getting hotter.”


I pulled my car next to his, popped the hood and joined my friend on the curb. I asked if I could hold his baby as he attached jumper cables to my battery, and he seemed grateful.
The little girl, probably nine months or so, didn’t make a sound as I scooped her out of her seat. She seemed sick with a cold and dried snot under her nose. She wore a white eyelet dress splattered with what I supposed was pureed sweet potato. I gathered a collection of baby blankets around her, even if it was 95 degrees outside.


It took two minutes if that. He buckled his daughter into the seat and shook my hand. “Thank you so much, mayam. Ah been out here awhile.”


I said you’re welcome, then wanted to add that I was sorry I suspected you of being a serial killer or using your baby as a decoy or taking so long to help or next time I’ll give the homeless guy a dollar.


But he left, and I didn’t.


14 Responses to “The Help”

  1. theresa says:

    It’s a scary world out there. 30 years ago, when someone needed help, there was always someone to help. Now you don’t know who really needs help or who’s a “bad guy”. Good job!!!

  2. It’s so sad that we have to be so paranoid about extending our helping hands these days. You did the right thing, though, to walk away and recruit help, or at the very least, someone to go with you while you helped.

    I can imagine that he was beside himself already, and having everyone rejecting his pleas of help…It has to be hard to be in that position, of really needing help, and having everyone be too paranoid to assist you.

    You’ve earned some serious points for your good deed. And I am betting he and his family sent you plenty of love-filled thoughts for what you did for them.

  3. You were smart and empathetic–a great combo.

    My husband has a hard & fast policy of helping stranded motorists–especially women. He says that even if they’re not sure he’s not a serial killer, he knows he’s not and that’s something.

  4. You have a big heart, and helped out in the safest way possible, if you were my child, however, I’d kill you for doing something like that. Not nice, I know. But I worry a lot about bad people who do bad things to good people–like you!

  5. Jack says:

    It bothers me that women fear men so much. I understand why and I am happy that the women I love are careful, but it is a sad thing.

    FWIW, I am always cautious about these guys too.

  6. Me says:

    Maybe you didn’t say you’re sorry or give him a dollar, but you did help him and that was exactly what he needed.

    You helped him on his way.

  7. You were the angel he needed at the time he needed it. I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

  8. Mama Mary says:

    You are beauty and love and light.

  9. It’s sad that paranoia trumps our willingness to help sometimes. I would have had your same reaction because that’s what my law enforcement father taught me. Hopefully, I would have ended up helping just the way you did.

  10. melissa says:

    sadly, i think so many of us was be exceptionally suspicious and hesitant.
    also sadly, i think so many of us would have just driven by without a second thought.

    i hope that, if i’m ever stuck at the side of the road, you are the one who comes by.

  11. Jean says:

    You’re a good woman. It IS hard to help, and to trust a stranger.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I agree with Jenn – empathy and smarts are what the situation called for. You handled this beautifully.

  13. It’s SO hard to lend a hand as a female. I’m glad you did.

  14. Rebecca C says:

    As some involved in law enforcement circles, I have a very hard time “helping” people like this too. You can never tell if they actually need the help, or if it is a scam or lure. I’m glad everything turned out okay in this instance. You were smart to be cautious.

    Also, if someone ever really gives you the willyjiggers (technical term there ;)), but you want to help, you can call the police for them. Unless they are all busy, which I suppose would be truer in a big city than anywhere I’ve ever lived, a patrol car will swing by and give him a jump. We had a flat in the middle of the night on our way back from a trip a week or so ago, and a cop on patrol stopped to see what we were doing (he ended up helping us change the tire).

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