Sunday, April 19, 2009
"The most sublime act is to set another before you."
-- William Blake --
It kind of seems like all I did this weekend was help people.
Now, I don't want to sound like I think I'm fucking Mother Theresa here, (whoa, that came out... wrong), but this weekend was largely devoted to being of service to others. I don't know if this is really my style or not. There are times when I can be a real selfish bastard, I'll be the first to stand up and admit that. Many times, when I have some spare time to myself, I'll just putz around and blog or buy shit that I don't need on e-bay. I could be making donations to charity or calling an old friend or writing a letter to my step-grandmother or stripping wallpaper or meeting the neighbors or making my wife dinner or tidying up, but I often... am doing none of those things.
(Jesus. You know-- I'd get a lot more writing done if I put in fewer hyperlinks.)
Anyway, trend or not, this weekend was helper weekend. On Saturday, I left my home in the cushy Pennsylvania burbs at 8:00am to travel 115 miles to bustling, honking, motherfucking New York City to help Dave move from his 8x11 cell, excuse me, apartment in Chelsea, into a comparatively palatial one bedroom in Brooklyn. I had the forethought to take the rear seats out of the PT Cruiser for maximum shithaulin' capacity. Temperatures were high on Saturday, and we worked our asses off. It took two trips, back and forth. On the way to Brooklyn the second time, we got stuck in a wall of cars on the Brooklyn Bridge for approximately an hour and a half in 93 degree heat. We got to watch a few innings of a little league game, though, being played at a local baseball diamond, and Dave shouted encouraging sentiments out the window like,
"You guys are awful!" and "Okay! Time to switch pitchers!" and, my favorite, "You suck, 13!"
Ain't he a sweetie? Actually, he is. For helping him move, he bought me a delectable dinner at "Rub," a BBQ place that, miraculously, did not reappear all over my dashboard on the drive home. I pulled into my driveway at 12:19am, sending the only coherent text message to Dave I could muster:
Sunday's service call was at the library where my Mom works. It was the Craft Fair, and my wife was experiencing the jitters as a first-time exhibitor. The Fair didn't start until 1pm, but my mother asked me to be there to help "Daddy and the husbands" set up the tables. I told her that "Daddy & The Husbands" could be an awesome band name. She didn't care.
So, lethargic and eating dry frosted wheat cereal from a bowl in the car, I drove over to the library to set up tables. My father was there, doling out like we were his privates on parade. But, for a change, it was my mother who was actually in charge, the library being her home turf since 1987. It was a pleasure watching my 5'2" mild-mannered mother usurping the Israeli Staff-Sergeant for a change.
After I set up the tables, it was back home to help my wife get all her crafts together:
Potato-stamped baby onesies
All hand-done. All beautiful. All Mrs. Apron.
We set up her table. I offered suggestions about display, and most of them taken. Interacting with the kids who came to our table to play with the I-Spy bags was the most fun part of the day. Even more fun than running into my perpetually intoxicated piano teacher, an annoying person my mother used to work with who tells endlessly painful stories about me as a child, the mother of one of my high school crushes and other ghosts from my past.
Then, when the craft-fair was done, we packed up all her shit, loaded it into the car, and I helped Daddy & The Husbands break down all the tables. Total time involved in craft-fair: 7 hours.
Helping people is good. I enjoy doing it. My wife says, "you're a helper. It's what you know how to do. People call you, and you come, and you do, and you don't keep score." I don't know if that's true. Sometimes I feel like my pool of sympathy is shockingly shallow-- the plights of a significant portion of the population barely move me to grimace. I guess I have to care about you first. I wonder sometimes if this is the true reason I was always drawn to "helping professions" as a child and as an adolescent and as an adult, even if it didn't always pan out.
I guess doing it as an avocation is just as well.