Sometimes we are very insensitive to the things happening around us. We do not notice how our actions impact on others or what others feel about it. Maybe are actions are meant to do good to someone, but the other person might perceive it on the contrary.
Yesterday while I was waiting to cross the road, to get to the building on the other side of the road an elderly woman came and stood next to me. She also wanted to cross the road like me, and like me she was waiting for the traffic to clear up so that she could cross.
She was in perfect health and needed no help to cross the road (according to me at least). Columns and columns of cars were coming one after another and ten minutes had already passed by. Both of us smiled giving that “helpless pedestrian” expression to each other. And then again we focused our eyes on the road, hoping it to get cleared.
The shifts of the security guard changed and he took his position on the gate.At first he didn’t notice the old lady standing next to me, the gate covered her up, but the moment the security guard saw her, he came running to her and told her “madam I will help you cross the road.”
Without actually listening to the lady’s answer, he went in the middle of the road, blew his whistle and instructed the cars to stop. He told me to help the lady cross the road. Now there were piles of cars waiting, so I held the lady’s hand and crossed the road. In between she shrugged my hand, smiled and said “thank you I don’t need help, I can cross.”
At first I didn’t quite understand why she did so, but then I did. What the security guard did was instinctive.When we see elderly people we go and help them. That’s what is taught to us and that’s what he did. What he didn’t do was to see if she actually wanted help or not.
What I did, was also instinctive. I thought since we have to cross the road in a hurry, she won’t be able to keep up her pace all by herself. She did keep up. In fact she was more quick in crossing the road, than I was perhaps.
She didn’t ask for help. We all assumed she would want to. That’s the thing with us, we don’t think about when does a person actually need help. Some people like being dependent and some prefer to act independently. My own grandmothers have been living alone independently, since quite a long time and they are strong enough to handle themselves. Does that mean they don’t need help? Of course they do. When they do, they ask for it. And that is what we must look out for. Help people only when they want you to, not without thinking.