Wanna change the world? Give someone a ride.

This morning on my drive to the office I saw a man walking down the road with a fairly pronounced limp. He was dressed in sweatpants and sweatshirt and was wearing a backpack and slowly dragging his leg behind him. After passing him I turned around and decided to offer him a ride into town. He made a motion to his mouth as he let out a somewhat distressed vocalization indicating that he was hearing impaired. I unlocked the door and reached across to open the door signaling to get inside. As he opened the door he struggled to get inside and was obviously in a lot of pain. He was a fairly tall and built individual so after a fair amount of struggling he was able to get inside the car. He made a motion for a pen and I gave him my notebook and pen to write in. He let me know that he was trying to get to the department of labor and after we started driving he pulled up his sweat pant leg to reveal a rather large scar on his knee from surgery. I would guess that he had had some kind of ACL surgery or some other arthroscopic ordeal. But here I am in driving down Winterville road and this guy was about to walk all the way to north avenue (6 miles) with a reconstructed knee, no brace, and no crutches. What the hell.

We eventually arrive at the department of labor and I get out of my van and walk over to the other side to help him out. He puts his arm around me and we gently walk together inside where a security guard is waiting with an office chair to serve as a impromptu wheelchair. I give him my number and tell him to call me when he’s done or if he needs a ride ever. I realize as I’m walking away that he’s deaf and feel silly for not writing that down but still feel like the exchange is understood. I let the desk attendant know as well and go on my way.

As I’m driving to work though I just begin to feel really overcome by all of it. I just couldn’t believe this guy was going to have to walk all the way across town after knee surgery while it was also really really cold and he clearly was not prepared for it. It made me realize how much good you can do for people by just picking them up off the road and getting them to their destination. This situation is an extreme but I try to do this a lot because it’s something that most people who have cars take for granted: the time it saves them. I mean it’s the most precious resource available and when we discuss economy and privilege I think in a lot of ways it’s the item in the equation that goes the most unnoticed. Especially in the south where viable forms of public transportation are under sourced. Shaving 15 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour off of someone’s travel if they’re having to walk is so huge and in a way that most of us don’t realize.

If sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the world and you just want to help in some way I can tell you that you’ll do more for the world in 15 minutes by giving someone a ride than donating money. Your contribution doesn’t have to be herculean and in ways it can be more impactful than you realize.

Originally posted on Viking Progress (www.vikingprogress.com)