Today was the first day I ever WISHED I had a cigarette. Why I wished for one shall follow….
Laying in bed at 8:20 a.m. today as I was trying to convince myself to get in the shower, I hear a loud slam on breaks and boom, followed by crunching of metal and breaking of glass. This guy totaled his car into a street light outside of my house. The soon car ended up in flames but was put out by our fabulous Beverly Hills Fire Dept that arrived within seconds.
After the car was gone and the fire hazard was cleared, I did as I normally do. I went out to talk to the driver and see if he needed anything: banana, water, cereal bar, ice pack… Etc. He was trembling, I didn’t blame him. He probably saw his life flash before his eyes as his car smashed into that pole. He said, “Thank you, but no. I need a cigarette or something.”
I responded, “I don’t have any, I don’t smoke. Are you sure I can’t offer you food or a drink?” Shook his head and smiled and mouthed “no thanks.” Right then I realized it could have come off as crass. I definitely do not like smokers or even to be in their vicinity. I am fortunate to live in a state with such high taxes and restrictions for smoking, but this guy needed something to shake that experience. I hoped he didn’t hear a tone of “holier than thou” emanating from my statement of “I don’t smoke,” because I normally do have that tone when I talk about smoking. I was immediately hoping I said it in a blasé fashion, but I could not be sure.
My son asked as we walked away, “what did he mean he wanted a cigarette? What’s that?” I smiled feeling fortunate that at five my child had no clue what a cigarette was, but it made me feel worse for the guy for some reason. It started sprinkling at that precise moment. I responded, “Some people smoke but we don’t. It’s not healthy, but some people choose to. No matter what, that young man had a bad morning as we have to offer whatever we can, when we can, to people who need help even if they don’t end up taking our help.”
My son understood but stated, “his car was just on fire, there was smoke on it, didn’t he get enough from that? He should have taken the banana and water.” I agreed and told him, I wish he would have. We crossed back across the street and walked inside. My son saw an umbrella and suggested maybe he could have that since it was sprinkling. I said that it was a brilliant idea. We walked out to give it to him and he was already gone.
Even if I was not able to help that young man with his need for a cigarette, I hope that he knows that there are actually people who care, even in “snooty” Beverly Hills. I also hope that my son continues on a path I am trying to instill on the importance of caring for strangers: no matter if we have exactly what they need (no matter what race, religion or other demographic that might be seen as different.) He definitely picked up my mood after feeling bad about not being able to help the young man.