Last night, as I wended my way home, I noticed a crush of traffic on all the roadways. The Pike was a parking lot, and 84 was at a virtual standstill. Even where I live, on Rte. 15, the road was congested.
I turned into my driveway, thankful to have only had to drive two miles. As I got out of the car I noticed the snaking line of vehicles waiting for the light to change. I couldn’t help but wonder if some folk, hidden behind darkened windows, were envious of me, knowing that I had arrived home and that perhaps their own journey home had hardly begun.
I thought about that as I turned the key and entered my warm house. I cradled a six-pack of beer and, as I began to place it in the fridge, couldn’t help but think where all those cars were heading, how far they had to travel, how far they had already gone, and wondered what time they would get home.
I poured a beer into a glass stein and went into the living room and sat near my Beloved, with Andi, our dog, between us. Julie was watching one of our shows on HGTV, and as I sat there rubbing her feet and occasionally taking a swig, my mind kept going back to those cars outside, those dark interiors, cars harboring husbands and wives and kids and pets, and I felt sorry for them.
Here I was at home. Home! Sometimes that one word can be such a comfort, a balm to nerves harried from holiday travels.
Now this is where the title to this post comes in. Thinking about being a Good Samaritan, I turned to Julie and said, “Wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if we made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies and a few pots of coffee and brought them out to the poor people who were trapped and tired in their vehicles?”
Julie looked at me and replied, “You’re right. That is a good idea.”
Did we get up and rummage around for an errant Tollhouse cookie roll in the fridge? Did we open the pantry and retrieve a new bag of ground coffee? No. And why didn’t we do that? I’ll tell you why. And it is a sad commentary on our present society. See if you agree with me.
As I mentioned earlier, as I exited my car and ascended the two flagstone stairs to my front door, I imagined that there were more than a few eyes watching me, envious that I was home, that soon the door would close behind me and I would disappear into the warm, safe confines of my residence.
They, however, would be held captive in a box with four wheels, miles from their respective destinations, captured by gridlock and the whims of holiday traffic.
And perhaps maybe a few pair of eyes out there on the road would harbor some sort of ill will towards me, an unfounded and perverse resentment, all because they noticed I was home, free from the constraints of a car and more miles ahead.
‘Lucky bastard,’ a father would think, while his wife slumbered and his two kids bickered in back.
As much as I would have liked to be that ‘good Samaritan’, I knew that it would not be prudent. Why? Because of our society, how there could be that one bad apple who, after my generosity of warm cookies and a steaming vessel of healing joe would—maybe—come back one day and wonder what was inside our centuries-old farmhouse. The good deed for the day by me would have been replaced by a nefarious scheme by that one person who had scarfed my baked goods and drank my hot coffee. This person might come back, not for cookies or freshly brewed coffee, but for you. Or your wife.
That is why I remained on the couch with Julie and Andi and watched TV. As much as I wanted to go out there with fresh, warm platters of chocolate chip cookies and pitchers of piping hot caffeine, the thought of some wacko returning one day to wreak havoc upon my household dissuaded me from doing so.
So. Was I wrong to think such things? Is our society that bad right now, where one cannot possibly be a good Samaritan? Do you ever think about such things, that you would like to do more for people, but cannot fathom doing so because of the possibility of a lone nut job coming back to harm you and your family?
Am I way off-base here? Do you think I’m too paranoid? Would you have gone out there, in the cold, to assuage the distressed?
The HGTV shows continued, and I drank a few more beers. Julie eventually went to bed. I let Andi out to pee and as I waited for his return, I couldn’t help but notice that traffic on 84 had still not abated, and the line of traffic at the end of my driveway had still not dwindled.
I let Andi back in, directed him to his ‘room’ upstairs, and stood in the kitchen, sipped my beer and watched the cars inch along.
I know just by thinking about being the good Samaritin doesn’t mean squat-diddly. But I must ask this question:
What would you have done?
©Paul Grignon, 2013-All Rights Reserved.