The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.” Mark Twain
Today, on Mother’s Day, I was flagged down by a middle-aged plus woman, pushing a bike on the side of the road. If she had flashed me a “hitchhikers’thumb,” I likely would not have stopped. However she waved me down like she was in distress and I felt obliged to assist.
It turns out, her bike was a recent gift from a family member but it was monkey wrenches away from being road worthy. The front tire was flat and the break cable was snapped and fledgling around like an over twanged guitar string. Too boot, she was also loaded down with some groceries that she couldn’t rest on the handlebars otherwise the front tire would be too flat to roll. When I met this lady, she was at the bottom of a large hill; her next half hour would likely to be an unpleasant grind.
Admittedly I did feel a smidge uncomfortable with this scene. I have been nicely conditioned to not talk to strangers and never pick-up hitchhikers. However she was going in my direction and was only going as far as I was going up the road as well. Also, the normally occupied hatch of my Honda Fit was as empty and surprisingly ample enough to fit her bike with an inch to spare. I had no excuses and really, loading and unloading her bike and dropping her off at the top of the hill was only 2 or 3 minutes out of my day.
We talked as we rode and found her to be a very gracious and interesting individual. She mentioned that neither of her children had yet phoned her for Mother’s Day. I did not take this as a complaint; it was more of a matter of fact assessment. This prompted me to wish her a consolatory Happy Mother’s Day; it seemed the appropriate thing to say.
When I returned her bike to the shoulder of the road, her farewell words to me were oddly touching. She told me to make sure I wished my wife a Happy Mother’s day from her, as if my wife would know her and appreciate her words. It was a personable thing to say and it caught me off guard since strangers don’t often speak in this way.
I wouldn’t say I cheered this kind woman up, as per Twain’s formula that I started this tale with. However, I certainly saved her a pound of sweat and perhaps a muscle ache or two; it was not a kind incline that we met on. Regardless, my day was made richer by this brief human interaction and it resonated with me enough to think and ponder and write about it. I wonder if I extended myself more to others, in this way if I would indeed be a cheerier sole.
Wise old Twain, I think he was on to something.