Learn from the Lessons

I try every day to be a better person than I was yesterday. In particular, I make an effort to be better if a similar setting presents itself – a second chance.

Many years ago, I was with my family on an 8-hour drive south to Edmonton. The highway is often straight for many kilometres at a stretch. Then it happened.

The engine stopped. It just died. I was able to pull over safely to the side of the road. I’m not very mechanically inclined. Then a passing motorist approaching, going north, stopped to make sure I was OK. He looked under the hood and diagnosed the problem. Time has erased the recollection of the issue, but it was somewhere before the air filter came into play. He said he had a replacement part at his home nearby.  He assured me he would return shortly, which he did. He replaced the piece, and the engine started.

At the same time, another motorist was driving south. Seeing the hood up, he too stopped. It turned out he was the husband of a neighbour. We rarely socialized as couples. He quickly tried to take over the situation and made no bones about not letting any Indian touch my car.

I was stunned. I started to explain, but the damage was done, and I was guilty by association. The mechanic quickly departed amidst my apologies and gratitude.

The whole event unfolded so unexpectedly and in such a terrible way. I didn’t react as I expected of myself. However, there was nothing I could do to change how I reacted. I committed to doing better should a similar situation arise. I also committed to seeking out opportunities to reach out to help individual Indigenous people in need.

Jumping forward to more current times, I’ll relate a couple of personal stories of how I handled a couple of second chances.

My wife and I were out for supper with a co-worker of mine and her husband. It was my treat, a thank-you, for some help my co-worker had given me. During the dinner, her husband told a racist story. I deliberately made it clear his comments were not OK – politely but straightforward. The supper passed uneventfully, but my working relationship with my co-worker was never the same. It was worth it to me.

The second example was at a gas station where an indigenous man could not pay his bill for whatever reason. As fate would have it, he was heading north with his family to where my broken-down vehicle occurred. I paid his bill. Did I get ripped off, fooled? I didn’t think about that. For the cost of a tank of gas for a stranger, I helped to right a wrong I had made. How fortunate I was to have that second chance. I still look for more second chances.

Please give a bit if a think. What situation would you like a do-over? What would a similar, but not the same situation, look like? What would you do differently? And just to lock it in, jot a few notes on paper.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please leave your comment.

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Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash

And my thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Volunteer Blogger


2 thoughts on “Learn from the Lessons

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    My story pales in comparison but here goes: My car had a flat tire on a busy highway and while I was standing by my car wondering what I should do, a young man in a truck stopped to ask what the problem was. The first thing I noticed was that his arm was in a cast so I explained that there was nothing he could do except maybe show me how I could change the tire. Despite my protests he proceeded in removing my tire and replacing it with my spare – all with one arm! He wouldn’t take a cent but I praised him over and over. ( I now have CAA and a cel phone)
    Paying it forward: I was returning from grocery shopping and while stopped at a red light I happened to notice a lady on the sidewalk whose carry bag had broken. Her items were strewn about. I quickly dumped out my bag of groceries and rushed to her assistance with my bag, helped her put the items in then rushed back to my car.
    But Glenn, what you did must have made that family feel like you were an angel sent from heaven.

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