Helping out when we can

October 23, 2013 09:22 am

The other day I wandered into a local institution I hadn’t been to in months. Within seconds I was drawn in and asked a favor, to which, I couldn’t say no.

As a friend says, “Let no good deed go unpunished.”

Sometimes just being a warm body will get me a volunteer gig, or even a job with, say, the La Grande Observer. It’s been said, 87 percent of life is just showing up. It’s what you do with the other 13 percent that makes all the difference.

After months of periodic car issues, my scout took his vehicle in for repair last week. Soon after returning home, the blasted thing wouldn’t start. A call to the mechanic got the wheels in motion for a more permanent fix, but we would have to wait a few days. By Monday, the vehicle wouldn’t start even with the prayers of an evangelist, and so one of us had to wait for the tow truck.

As I sent my scout off to work in my car I said, “You’d do it for me.”

Out here we do things differently. I told the woman at AAA that I did not need to wait for the tow truck and yet she insisted that I be there when the driver arrived. When he did not appear at the appointed time, I called back and said, “I am going to work. If the driver needs me, give him my number.”

When the driver called, he agreed that here in Wallowa County we do things our way and never mind about fears of “liability.” Let’s just get it done. In fact, he’s towed my car twice and we’ve never laid eyes on each other.

I would never go so far as to qualify country folk as any more real than those who tread the sidewalks of Wall Street or Capitol Hill, but we here live with less fear, look out for our neighbors and help when we can.

There was a small book I found on the night stand of my parents’ guest room; it is now on mine. It is called “The Prophet” and contains gems of life’s best lessons.

When asked about giving, the Prophet said, “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism, and there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue.”

Giving up my car for a day did not pain me, nor give me joy. Neither did riding my bike to get to my appointments. My scout and I live in reciprocity, yet the Prophet would say to give without thinking about it.

I’m always amazed when someone in our community has unmet medical bills or a family loses a home how quickly money is raised — even in a county where the unemployment rate is always higher than the state average. People around here help out without giving it a second thought.

This is the time of year that various groups begin to collect coats, toys and food for those in need. Soon I will be running announcements for these drives run by participating businesses, organizations, schools and churches.

One of my favorite things about living in rural America, besides the lack of traffic, is that our stores don’t push Santa on us before Thanksgiving, but if the real meaning of Christmas is the giving of love every day, I don’t think it’s too soon to start “shopping.”