Man Over Board!

I can start my sales route anywhere between 8:30am and 10:30am. Sometimes I can jump right in and others it takes me some time to get into.

One morning, not too long ago, as I was heading into a river town not too far from our shop, I was passing under a bridge intersection and I happen to notice what I thought was a car accident because there was “debris” thrown everywhere. I looked over and found a van pulled over on the side of the road with an older man going through something in the back of it.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that the “debris” scattered throughout the area were actually plastic water bottles and there were many more stacked in the back of this van. After thinking about it for a minute, it was clear to see that this gentleman had packed his van FULL of boxes of bottled water, the ENTIRE back of this van to be precise, and somehow the doors had opened and they had spilled everywhere and this poor guy was left picking up all these bottles by hand at this busy highway entrance.

I had to stop. Not because I wanted to be “that guy” rushing in at the last moment to help someone who was in distress but because I really felt for this guy; he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and I could not just drive by watching him struggle. It wasn’t that he would remember me, or the car, but … I would remember not doing anything to change this situation.

There are times when you witness things that are so clear to you that you have already acted on them before you were consciously aware you had done them. That’s how I wound up in the center of the road. The older gentlemen never said a word to me. I thought he was embarrassed, didn’t want to ask for help, realized he was in for a long morning but when someone stopped to help, he didn’t stop them either.

I immediately went out into the center of this four-lane intersection and began picking up bottles of water. Some were unharmed, some looked like they had exploded on impact and others had definitely been run over. I couldn’t understand it, instead of stopping to help or even just steering clear of this debris, people actually just plowed right through and here was this guy just trying to pick the items up off of the road; forced to watch this unfold just because of some unfortunate turn of events! None-the-less, after several minutes of dodging traffic, I managed to get my share of the bottles back over to the curb by his van. When I finally got close enough to this man, I looked at him, nodded my head, smiled and shrugged. He gave me a very week smile and nodded back from the side of his face.

I then began taking the bottles and began rebuilding the cases of water that were in the back of his van. We never spoke, just kept handing bottles to each other and slowly restocked this man’s vehicle.

At the end, I slammed shut one door and he slammed the other. He looked at me, stuck out his hand, gave me his first name and after grasping his hand I gave him mine and then I went back to the car. I turned off the 4-way flashers and drove away. I looked back once, saw him raise his hand to wave at me and I gave him a thumbs up.

It was at that moment I realized that this was EXACTLY what I needed to start my day out right … by helping someone ELSE out with the worst moment of their day by just “turning it around.”

I dare you to do the same thing!

Go get ‘em!

2 thoughts on “Man Over Board!

  1. I love this story – it always makes a tough day not so bad when you can help someone else who is struggling more than you are.

    1. Agreed, I’ve also learned that it can frame the day as well i.e. I didn’t understand it’s importance until I looked back on it. Thanks for the comment!

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