Thoughts from a bad Samaritan

(Apologies to Ha-Joon Chang for having a similar title to his excellent book.)

I saw him in time, no excuse not to stop. There was this guy at the side of the road just as I entered the Allen from Eglinton. His four-ways were on and he was waving jumpers as the snow fell, I knew exactly what he needed – a boost. I had done this for my own car and other’s many times before, I know how to give a boost. I even know not to stand right over the battery when connecting the last cable as there’s a minute risk of an explosion. The whole process – stop, engine off, hood up, connect cables, start one car, start the other, disconnect cables – is easily accomplished in less than two minutes. So why did I blow past this guy? Well, it turns out I had an excuse all right, I had an important appointment to be at – so important that I was going to be easily 20 minutes early. Ha, what an excuse! How did I rationalize that stopping would make me late? I don’t know now, now I feel like an idiot now but at the time I thought, “oh, I should stop, but I might be late.” That was the story I told myself.

The reality of it all is that it’s bullshit to say I had any excuse. This isn’t even like avoiding homeless people – I’m never sure what the best approach is there and I always read conflicting advice – I knew exactly what to do in this situation.This is a problem that I can solve.

I know this isn’t the worst crisis the world has faced. Some guy’s car broke down. But I do know how much it must suck to stand in the cold and snow on the highway hoping someone might give you boost. How much longer did he wait? Did he end up having to pay a tow truck for a boost (they usually charge you for that)? Moreover, if I fail to do good in small situations, what are my odds like in big ones?