Sunday, July 27, 2008

I can do it

My brother who uses a wheelchair went to a retirement party last week with his wife. He said something like: "I didn't have to do anything." Apparently, people were helping him with everything.

"You want to tell them, 'let me do something for myself,'" he added before saying that he wouldn't actually say that.

The darn do-gooders he faced that night might have been servers and waiters who are paid to assist people. What do you think or say when the unwanted and unneeded assistance comes from people who aren't paid to do it and also aren't related? (Related people are a whole nother ball game and discussing them would take me into a minefield that could leave me living at a local Days Inn for the present and without a home to live in for the future, so I will put it aside for now.)

I actually had two recent experiences with unnecessary help and I still don't know what to think. On the one hand, I am just overwhelmed at the kindness or grace or whatever that these people are showing. On the other hand, I am like my brother: "Let me do something for myself."

A few weeks ago, my boss brought me hot water for my morning tea, as he always does, which alone shows his kindness. But I knocked the cup over all over my desk. He heard it spill, asked if i was OK (I was), then came around and said I'll get you some new water and clean this up.

I tried telling him I could do it. In fact I had spilled the morning before when he wasn't there and had cleaned it all up with a handful of newspapers and two old napkins.

He would hear none of it. He brought back a big paper towel roll and a bowl full of water for him to rinse the paper towels in. And cleaned it. My intern even tried to get in on the act when my boss was getting the paper towels, offering to help.

A few nights later I was having dinner with Mom and Dad and a cousin and his fiance. I asked her to pass me the watermelon. She did and I grabbed the spoon in the bowl to dish some on to my plate. But the spoon slipped out of my grip, didn't fall out of the bowl or anything.

But she just very matter-of-factly took the bowl and motioned for my plate and served me the watermelon.

Both of these things I could easily do. I would not even break a sweat. Shouldn't I do what I can because there is so so much I can't? But how can I turn away help?


Anonymous said...

You know, Matt, everyone takes help from people. I don't deny that you and Tony may get more help from "strangers" than others do, but we all get help from people. We give it to people too. You included. I've seen you do it. Proabably it just stands out more for you, but really, I think we all give and get all the time. Sometimes it is easy to accept with grace and sometimes it is not. And I know I've said this before, but people like to be able to help you and others. It makes people feel good to see themselves as helpful. It's why I let people cut in front of me in traffic, it's why I pick up something if I see it one the floor in the grocery story, it's why my kids hold doors open for the people behind them. It's just what we do and what you do too.
i love you

Matt said...

Your kids are pretty special, not like a certain little girl who declined to put sun screen on her mother's back today.

And I know it is what we do. I just wish assistance for me was not so show-stopping.

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