It was pushing towards 9:00a early one morning when I parked directly in front of the entrance to the Lakewood Towne Center Starbucks. A young woman was standing outside the open passenger door of a minivan parked next to me.
While we did not know each other, I smiled and said, “Good morning.” She responded in kind, and then I heard her say, “May I ask you a question?”
I smiled, and replied, “Sure, how might I help you?” The woman told me her friend’s minivan was suffering from a dead battery. She asked if I could jump-start the minivan using their jumper cables and my car battery.
I told her I had an easier solution. I retrieved my compact, but powerful, Micro-Start multi-purpose electronic device from the trunk of my car. The Micro-Start can jump start vehicles, charge cell phones, serve as a flashlight or cause a dead guy to sit up and take notice.
Before unpacking my Micro-Start, I contacted the driver, who was the car owner and said, “Your friend tells me you have a dead battery. I am willing to help, but I must disclose I am not a certified mechanic. If your car catches fire, I will not be responsible. On the positive side, I have jump-started cars for 58 years without a single car-fire.”
I then asked, “Do you want me to get out of your life, or would you prefer that I proceed.”
I recognize my readers were not there and none of this sounds funny on paper. The fact is, based on my chosen words and verbal delivery style, the driver and her two friends were laughing right in the middle of a car problem. The driver was laughing so hard, she barely spit out the two “P” words, “Please proceed”.
The minivan mini-hood popped open. I told the passenger, “I now wish to impress you with my level of mechanical aptitude. I have already identified your car battery.” I pointed to the battery and with that, she experienced the warm glow of ever-increasing confidence in my mechanical ability.
I warned the driver, “Do not twist the key until I give you thumbs up. I do not want you to set me on fire.”
When she twisted the key, there was, as my dad liked to say, “fire in the hole”.
The driver then said, “Thank you so much, and now I must buy your coffee.”
While her offer was a thoughtful gesture, I declined. I told her, “There is not enough kindness in our world, especially right now. You gave me a chance to begin my day by being kind to someone. That is all I need.”
Instead of buying my coffee, I asked her to pass along a little kindness to someone else when the opportunity presents itself. She promised to do so.
Here is the kicker. The minivan occupants were African-American. I am White. You will never read about this positive incident between two races in the paper unless of course, you are reading The Suburban Times. I am weary of the hating that goes on between African-Americans, Whites, Gays, Hispanics and the list goes on.
Being a hater is not good for haters or hatees (Note: Every word in the English language was made up by someone at some time. When you think about it, there is no reason I can’t make up new words too. Thus, hatee.) Hating destructively eats away at a person like acid.
I understand that African-Americans and Whites are simultaneously the same and different. I have never met an African-American man, woman or child in my private life that I did not like. While my statement may be hard to believe, it is amazingly true.
My first contact with African-Americans came in grade school. There were three African-American boys in my class. (I come from the Pacific Northwest so my use of the term boys means they were young males. I do not use the word boys as a racial slur.) Alvin and his two pals were easy to like. These guys were fun to be with and they were cooler than anyone in our mostly White school.
The three of them were so cool, back in the 1950s, they captured a spot on Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour TV show playing “Handbones” (There is a short wait for the link to cue up.). I did not know it at the time, but when African-Americans were enslaved and brought to America, they were not always allowed to bring or keep their musical instruments. African-Americans started Handbones as an original American musical art form born out of necessity to make and enjoy music.
Click my Link 1 to watch an entertaining display of the musical art form known as Handbones.
Click my Link 2 for a short fun lesson that teaches you how to play Handbones.
Handbones was my start with African-American people and a good start it was. There are many more African-American men, women and children I have been friends with over the past 7 decades such as my banker, my office assistant, neighbors, my blues harmonica playing, Harley riding pal from Minneapolis, renters, Washington Natural Gas Company pal from Detroit, my furnace salesman, my favorite jazz and Blues musicians, actors, comedians, and guys and gals at work.
Try a little kindness everyday with everyone you meet, including our minority citizens and who knows, you may just jump-start a new positive relationship which will make our world a better place.
Being kind and doing the right thing is not only other-directed, it is in our own selfish best interest in terms of living a longer and happier life. Take a close look at people who are full of hate, bitterness, and prejudice, and you will see what I mean. They are killing themselves.
If you spot any microaggressions in my article, know this. I wish not to be a hater even on the micro-level. I am not saying all African-Americans are the same. The African-Americans I have met have a wonderful sense of humor, a strong life spirit, good intellect, all of which make African-Americans enjoyable to be with. Hating certainly causes a missed opportunity to know some good people.
People are people.
Sean Graver says
Great story Joe! I’ve had to say no to jump start requests because the owners manual and the mechanics say that it can damage my car. Not sure why old cars could handle this, but newer, high-tech one can’t.
I’m ordering a couple of those Micro-Start devices so I can say “yes” next time.
You friend says
Loved, loved this article. You are right on, Joseph!
Lenny Holmes says
Way to go Joe!!!! AGREE!!
Miss our Starbucks visits…..good to see you are still holding “Court”.
Greetings from Bend, Oregon
Alyce Brame-Galyean says
Wow Joe.That’s what I’m talking about. Although I too am white, I come from a Rainbow family. I volunteer with The Food Connection and my best friend Suzanne Tate looks white but is half Puerto Rican. When volunteering we would often be confronted with racial comments from other African American volunteers – she would wait a moment or to and then announce loudly to me, “Who you calling white?”. Everyone would turn to look and see two “obviously” white women. The next thing you know, we all would be combined in the task at hand – with lots of humor and of course bantering.
Thanks for sharing an all too much sheltered experience.
Ria J Johnson Covington says
Nice jump start to my day! Thank you for your good deed of the day.