Help! I’m a do-it-yourselfer and no one is helping me!
A story about a woman who didn’t cry for help one too many times.
It was dark inside the Applebee’s. Last call already passed. Not many people left except us and a couple of tipsy locals.
Intoxication is the worst thing to be surrounded by when you need a ride.
Stranded in a tiny town in Massachusetts, the car I had been riding down the highway in was just towed to an auto shop for the night after abruptly refusing to continue riding down the highway. The front desk at the hotel we begrudgingly booked a night at assured us that there were Ubers in the area. After waiting 20 minutes for a Subaru to pull up to the sliding glass doors of the hotel we got in and let the driver take us to the land colloquially known as Applebee’s.
Spinach and artichoke dip: check. Margarita for $10.50 with multiple pours: check. After stuffing our faces with delight, a semblance of normality returned to our bodies. Riding in the back of a tow truck tends to strip the body of any pleasure it previously carried.
After paying the bill I tapped at my phone and opened Uber, requesting a ride back to the hotel. After staring at Uber’s spinning wheel of death for 10 minutes, it finally spat back that it had no rides available; “Try again later or utilize a different Uber service!” Which different Uber Service do you expect me to use? Order an Applebee’s steak to the hotel and hitch a ride in their car? I tried, but Uber Eats had no cars available either.
At the front desk of the hotel a local taxi service had business cards available, advertising their services. I called, but was greeted by a woman who sounded very confused that I desired a pickup from her. She said she would try her best to find a car willing to get us from Applebee’s but prefaced the likelihood of her having success with the fact that she was currently sitting at a bar in Boston.
Walking the hour along the highway back to the hotel began to seem more and more like a fun adventure.
The aforementioned other patrons who were also spending their Monday night at this Applebee’s were out of the question due to the sheer volume of empty glasses strewn before them. I looked over at our waitress and realized that she had suddenly become our last resort.
Her name was Melissa. She looked to be my age or a bit younger. She greeted us with a smile, but at that point she was jonesing for a tip.
I found her at the register with another waitress and an older man who looked to be the manager. The three of them sat huddled around the touchpad, calculating tips for the night.
As I approached the trio I futzed with my outfit. Took my hoodie off to reveal the blazer I had on underneath. Presentable. Professional. “I promise I truly only need a ride back to the hotel I am not a scary person.”
I decided on the opening line of, “I have a bit of a strange request.” If I could go back and edit I might have landed on, “Thanks again for the great service,” to come off even more non-threatening. The three of them stared at me as I lamented the fact that my father and I hired a tow for 300 bucks a few hours ago to schlep us and our no longer functioning vehicle out of a AAA restricted zone, only to grab a bite at Applebee’s with no ability to make it back to the beds we had rented for the night. They stared at me, motionless, none of them uttering a word.
Then Melissa jumped to life. “I can give you a ride.”
I can give you a ride if you subscribe.
When we got in her car I tried to offer as much information about myself as possible to further decrease the threat. I told her where I live. Where I went to school. I was two sentences away from rattling off my social.
I went the extra mile because had I been Melissa, I don’t know if I would have offered the ride. I find it more likely that my mind would have gone to the worst case scenario before believing this father-daughter pair and offering the help that they needed.
As Melissa dropped us off at the hotel I imagined her sending a text to the other waitress she stood at the register with, assuaging the other waitress’ fears with, “All good! Dropped them off! Heading home now!” My dad and I decided to give Melissa some cash as a thanks for the ride.
Part of me knows that these increased fears are largely due to an increase in news coverage of kidnappings, not necessarily an increase in kidnappings. An increase in crime podcasts, but not necessarily an increase in crime. That the constant exposure to horrible things happening has trained our brains to believe in the worst case scenario at all times. But I also wonder if my brain is even more susceptible to assuming the horrible due to the fact that I’ve trained my brain to never ask for help.
I want to untrain my brain in thinking this way. Because I’ve realized that there are only a handful of instances, truly I can count the instances on one hand, in which I’ve been denied help after asking for it. But that handful hurt. They were small but mighty. And so my brain has hyper-sensitized itself to avoid this kind of pain; never asking for help to avoid being denied it.
But had I trudged down the highway back to the hotel, deciding to avoid asking for help and instead cursing the skies the whole way, I would never have experienced Melissa’s kindness that night. And her kindness never would have forged its way into my memory as a positive experience in receiving the help I asked for.
Help! I’m a do-it-yourselfer and no one is going to help me if I don’t get over myself and ask for it.