I thought the man had heat stroke. There he sat, on the sidewalk of a major road on the hottest day of the year so far, holding 2 gas cans. He looked pasty white, and as I rushed by him on my way to take the 5 year old to her class, I thought I ought to stop. But, we were running late, as usual, and so NMP (not my problem). It took me 5 blocks to turn around, 3 minutes to drive back, and another illegal u-turn (justifiable, I thought, if a police officer should pull me over) to get back to the 70-something year old guy.
He looked up as a I rolled down the window.
“Sir, are you okay?” I shouted, not willing to actually step out of my car into the 98 degree heat.
He laughed. “Yah, I’m alright.” (Did I detect a Southie accent?) “My wife has the car and I’ve been waiting here for half an hour. She should be back soon.”
“Maybe she stopped for ice cream,” I responded, brilliantly deflecting any angry feelings he may have had toward his wife.
We chatted for another 15 seconds, I waved goodbye, and sped off. We'd stopped for nothing and now the child would be 10 minutes late for class. How was I going to explain this to the middle child who, understandably, resents anything that takes away from the few things that are “just hers”.
“Honey, we’re late for your class. But, we stopped to see if a man needed help. It’s so hot, you know, and he was just sitting there looking sick.”
And I should have known. I should have understood that my 5 year old sees more clearly than I do.
“What’s better,” she asks, “helping someone or gymnastics? Helping someone!”