Helping Little Old Ladies versus Getting To Work On Time

3 Dec

by Rhea H. Boyden

‘Can we spend next Monday’s lesson working entirely on preparation for a really important presentation I have to give in English?’ one of my students requested of me last Monday. ‘It’s urgent and I am stressed about it and will need the whole class time for it’ she informed me. ‘Absolutely,’ I responded agreeably. ‘I will bring all the materials you need. There is no need to stress about it, I will get you prepped,’ I assured her.

This morning the sun was shining and it was a beautiful December morning. I was in an amazingly good mood considering it was Monday morning. I packed my bag with my presentation materials and headed out the door. As I approached the station a little old lady on a walker stopped me. I pulled my headphones off my head. ‘Can you help me walk home?, she panted. ‘I can’t manage it on my own’, she said. I looked at her with concern but simply said ‘I am really, really sorry, but I have a train to catch to an important meeting and I cannot be late’. She just looked at me sadly and I gave her another look that said how sorry I was, and I ran to catch my train. As soon as I took my seat on the train the realisation of what I had just done-or rather failed to do- hit me hard. ‘Wow, you are a real asshole, you just refused to help that poor old lady’: My heart sank and my good mood disappeared. I then pondered the moral implications of this and obsessed about it all the way to work.

When I arrived at work, I unlocked the meeting room and pulled out my materials and waited for my student. I kept watching the clock. 15 minutes later there was still no sign of her. I started feeling even worse about the little old lady and wondered if she was okay ‘Why am I letting this ruin my day?’ I thought. Eventually, half an hour late, my student came running in the door. ‘I am so sorry I am late’ she said, all flustered. ‘There was this little old lady at the bus stop and she was really stressed out and didn’t know where she was, so I had to help her.’ she explained. I just sat there listening in disbelief. ‘She said she needed to go to the hospital and I assured her it was not this bus but she had to take the other bus in the other direction. I think she was quite demented. I then took her to the right bus, but missed my own bus and had to wait another 20 minutes for the next bus.’ she continued. ‘God, what a morning. So much stress. I hate Mondays.’ she groaned. ‘Yes, I agree, Mondays suck’ I said, feeling bewildered. ‘I guess we better get to work on your presentation now, we really don’t have much time for it after all.’ I reminded her, my heart sinking even further. ‘Oh right, the damn presentation!’ she said. I haven’t prepared a thing!’

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