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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Can I help you?

© Another Day in the Country

It’s easy, at times, to think that good old fashioned kindness has gone out the window. Ugliness seems to rule the day and rude behavior becomes the norm.

Then something shocking happens.

I don’t know how often you fly somewhere; for me it’s about every six months or so when I make a trek to California. I’ve always loved the little Wichita airport — and I say ‘little’ because it is so much smaller and easier to get around in than the San Francisco or Denver airports.

Usually Denver is a hub and not a destination for me, but the last time I landed in Denver as my drop-off point, I was shocked at just how far I had to walk to even get to the entrance where I could be picked up.

That’s a big airport, and it was always a comfort to get back to Wichita with its easy parking and short walks off and on the concourse.

And then it changed.

In June, preparing to fly to California, we drove up to what used to be our little hometown-style airport and everything was different — even the name.

These two hicks from the sticks were lost! How were we to park?

“Just drop me off,” I said.

“Not in unknown territory,” my sister said. “I’ll go park, while you check in for your flight.”

But with construction going on, traffic snarls, and poor directional signs, she finally gave up and texted, “Are you OK? I’m heading home.”

When she came to pick me up in August, things were better.

“I figured out how to park,” she said.

All was well again at our favorite airport; but we still felt a little like strangers.

At Christmas, when she pulled up to drop me off in front, there were so many other cars dropping off people that she had to park in the next lane out.

Once the car was stopped I jumped out, closed my door, and began struggling to get my big old suitcase out of the backseat. The man parked next to us was coming back to get in his car. We were in his way!

Jess and I bolted to hurry with our suitcase extraction when the man smiled and said, “Here, let me help you.”

What? We were expecting him to be impatient because our door was blocking his path. Had we heard right? We were startled. Was he being helpful? Yes, he was!

“Let me help you get those,” he said again, and we both backed away from the door. This man was so nice. We couldn’t believe it. It was like a Christmas present, cheering me on my way.

Just yesterday, it happened again.

We were purchasing a new microwave/hood combination for my kitchen — who know how things aren’t built to last more than a few years, these days — when the clerk balanced the machine (which now looked huge in its packing box) on our cart.

“Will you need help with this?” he asked.

It seems that I have a habit of over-estimating my capacity for lifting and my car’s capacity for holding things.

“No, we can get it,” we replied.

Wrong! From the display to the packaging box this thing had doubled in size, it seemed. However, we shouldered forth to check out and out to the car.

“Let’s put it in the trunk,” my sister said. “Nah, I think it will fit in the back seat,” I countered. (I was wrong but didn’t know it, yet.) My reasoning was that while it might fit easier in the trunk, it would be a heavy haul to get it up and out of the trunk, whereas slipping it off the higher seat would be a lighter lift. What I hadn’t considered was that the microwave and I would not both fit in through the door opening.

We did get it off the cart and into the opening and we were stuck when we heard a voice behind us. “Can I help you?” I looked over my shoulder and here stood a couple of guys, smiling, to whom we gladly relinquished our awkward burden. Yes, yes, yes, they could help us and we thanked them profusely.

It’s a grand day in the country, for the helper and the helped, when someone says those magic words — especially with a smile — ”Can I help you?”

Last modified Feb. 4, 2016

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