Sunday, March 22, 2009

Do people really want to help.....

...or are they just offering because it is the polite thing to do? It has been about 3 years since the event I am about to explain to you took place. I think I may have finally recovered enough to tell it. Let's see how it goes...

Picture this: Me. Alone. 3 month old twin infants. Grocery Store. Baby Bjorn.

As any parent of more than one child knows. Kids are born with their personality built right into them. We, as parents, don't get a choice. Some kids are always harder than others. This, of course, was the case with my twins. My son was (and still is) a harder kid. He's not so easy going...enough said. He was born this way. My daughter on the other hand is a quiet, easy going, little angel. She is content 99.9% of the time. Barely ever cries. You get the picture. Now...let me get on with my story.

I am in the grocery store. I have two in the car seat on the shopping cart and the other in a baby bjorn carrier. I figure I will put my son in the Bjorn since he (like I explained) is usually the one to cry. My daughter is in the carseat. I am in the store about 2 minutes. While dreamily gazing at the Hostess items all hell breaks loose. My daughter begins to scream. An ear piercing 3 month old, shrill scream. After a brief moment of shock I decide I need to get my son out of the Bjorn and get her in it. Easier said than done.

The Bjorn is like an frigging octopus. All straps and buttons and clips everywhere. I am starting to sweat profusely. I can't get the straps off. If I do get the straps off where do I set him while I put her in the Bjorn? How can I swap them both without having to set one literally on the floor? This is when "he" enters the picture...

He is your typical Orange County, CA kinda guy. Late 40's. Oozing wealth. Expensive suit. Fancy watch. Manicured nails. The whole Deal. He looks up at me and asks...Do you need help? Never thinking, I am sure, that I would say yes. But I did. Surprising the both of us I think.

I grabbed my daughter from her carseat and with perfectly straight arms I held her out to him. He gave me and then her a look that contained both shock and a bit of regret. Maybe even a tiny bit of disgust. He did take her. He held her about 3 feet out away from his body. Her little feet dangling. I finished wrestling with that Bjorn and finally won. Got my son in the seat and took her back. Thanked him for his help and carried on with my Hostess fantasies.

As he walked away I wondered though. How many times do people offer help but don't really want to give it. He was obviously raised well enough to ask. To be polite. But is it polite if the offer is not geniune?

Tell me what you think... Has something similar happened to you?


  1. I think alot of people offer because they know help is needed, not neccessarily because they want to. It really depends on the situation though and if the person is comfortable. Maybe he wasn't comfortable with babies, but was just compassionate enough to see that you really needed help and he was the only one there at that moment.

  2. I think the real question here is should you feel bad about accepting the help from a stranger. The answer to that question is "no". As far as the politeness of the offer, I say, "who cares!" If he was nice enough to ask, then he was nice enough to help even though he was obviously uncomfortable with the situation. I don't think being polite necessarily means you want to do anything. If that was the case, no one would ever have friends help them move. :)

  3. In a situation like this, I think most people probably do expect to help. There are a lot of other situations though were I think the offer is made more as a weak gesture.

  4. Yes, exactly. I would call that experience of mine a "weak gesture"!

  5. From the Cranky Twin Mom Next Door:

    I had a bad experience several years back when my oldest was about 18 months old. I was traveling alone with her to see my parents (this baby was no stranger to airorts, and had been flying since she was 2 months old...). She was giddy with joy as she ran just ahead of me along the carpeted walkway of John Wayne Airport. The nubby carpet suddenly turned into marble. My poor baby daughter catches her foot on the marble, and does a horrific faceplant. Blood everyone. Swelling lips, bleeding gums and nose, swelling eye, bruised cheek, it was awful. And the poor screaming child. Me without a napkin or access to my diapers bag as by this time my daughter has thrown her arms around my neck and won't let me go. Dozens of career women decked to the nines with suits, shoes, briefcases, and cell-phones walk by, avoiding me with the look that says "If I don't see you, you don't see me.". I even asked several for help - even a tissue would have helped a bit! But no. I am struggling with a very injured screaming baby, luggage, and no help. Then, out of the blue steps this businessman, dressed to the nines, who kindly raids the local McDonalds for ice and dozens of napkins. He helps me clean her up, calm her, gets blood on his suit and doesn't care, and once she is calm, with a wistful look says he has 3 at home he never gets to see as he travels for works so much. And walks on past to his gate. From the kindness of strangers comes th most unexpected joys.

  6. My thoughts are. I like the guy. He offered to help a woman in distress.. holding a baby can be terrifying and I think he was fearful not reluctant. I live in OC so I've seen the guy! Beautiful children!