June 21, 2011
Ever done something for someone and expected nothing in return? Here's a short story about exactly that.
It was just after 7a in the early June Florida morning. Heat warnings were issued and the high for the day was headed to a heat index of 104 degrees. A real scorcher was brewing, like it had been for the past few days. I had just left the house on the way to the station.
As I rounded a corner, I was waved down by a frantic looking woman. She asked if I had jumper cables. I said, "Sure thing, what's up?" She explained that she had rented a vacation home for a week (a common practice in this part of Florida due to all the tourism), and her daughter was playing in a volleyball tournament at Disney World. This was the last day and the championship round. She pointed to the house across the street where a white minivan sat backed in to the driveway. "Can you give me a jump"?
She was frantic because her daughter had already left for the field on the team bus and now she and other moms were trying to get to the game, only to come out to a dead minivan.
She explained that she had called the gatehouse and they were no help at all. Then she called the owner of the home, looking anywhere for help, and they actually got angry at her for calling so early! She and the others were getting more and more upset. With a son who played sports, I know how important it was to be there to watch him pitch in that important game. I felt their predicament.
No problem. Pulling into the driveway, I nosed up to the minivan, and popped the hood. At that point, another mom and a grandmother came out of the house looking worried. No doubt the three of them and their daughters (and granddaughter) had qualified for the tournament and they were here to cheer the girls on. None of them had ever jumped a car before; one mom said to me, "I have never even looked under a hood." I told them not to worry -- not an issue, that they would be on their way in just a minute and they could make the tournament.
First I tested the minivan to be sure that yes, in fact it was a battery issue. Walking up to a broken car, you have no idea if the car has seized up, has a major electrical problem, or what. You have to pay attention and look for signs. It turned over barely half a crank and then died. Yep, probably a dead battery.
I hooked up the cables, and the minivan started right up. The look on their faces was priceless. They would now see the girls play in the final game!
The women were overjoyed. The minivan was running and as I unhooked the cables, they asked, "Can we pay you for this? Let us pay you something!" I said, "Absolutely not!" "Go enjoy your daughters ... that is what is most important," I said. I hopped in my car and headed off to the station, not thinking another thing about it. I didn't get their names, their city, or any information ... and they didn't get mine. I just hope they made it to the tournament okay.
When I arrived at the station, I got out of the car and grabbed my briefcase. I noticed something fluttering out of the corner of my eye as I stood up. It was a cleanly folded $50 bill. As I was jumping the minivan, I had noticed the grandma was standing over by the driver door of my car, but I didn't think anything of it at the time.
She had dropped the folded $50 bill onto the seat when I wasn't looking. And now I had no way to return it.
What are you doing to help someone today? What you send out comes back. Call it the law of Karma, call it whatever, but your job in your career is to help others become even better at their career. You may not get an instant $50 from a grateful grandmother, but you will receive the benefit when you help others.