drinking

When Doing a Good Deed Backfires Completely

I have a habit of always wanting to help people out, and it’s a habit I want to pass on to my children. But, how do I explain that doing good doesn’t always pay off like you think it will? Like the time I tried to help a guy who ran off the road nearby by our house…

I saw it all happen from my porch and I’m all, “Let’s go help him!” while shoving my feet into whatever shoes I find laying in the foyer. My husband usually thinks a tad bit more rationally but he knows there is no sense arguing because I’m going out there, with or without him.

“Hey, do you need some help there buddy?” my husband asks.

A thankful, friendly nod was his reply. It’s not an unusual predicament. It’s a funny little bend and cars can easily slip over the edge at night and end up a foot, or 10, into the woods.

A plan is devised: They push the truck while I drive. The guy asks if I can drive a stick.

“Can I drive a stick?!” Of course I can drive a stick.

I push down the clutch and beam with pride. I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy ready to prove I was just as tough as any guy. I put it into gear and press the accelerator, slowly release the clutch, and with a little pushing from behind the truck ends up safely onto the road above, where I park it with a sense of great accomplishment. Driving a manual car and helping a stranger; I was in my element here.

And then I smelled it. It was so faint at first I couldn’t quite tell. And then it was all I could smell. I should have known. I really should have known.

I had just helped a drunk escape the scene of an accident.

While the guy is handing out thank yous and probably silently swearing off drinking and gambling and cursing forever if only he gets out of this situation, I ask him if he’s been drinking. Of course he denies it, looking down at his shoes like he wants to cry.

“Dude, you know we can smell it everywhere. I can’t let you drive home like this. We’ll call you a cab. You can park here and pick up the truck tomorrow.”

He swears it was just a sip. He’s not drunk. It had nothing to do with the accident.

My aunt, an alcoholic who used to often tell us the same thing, ended her life by swerving off the road and driving into a tree one horrible night, leaving my cousin without a mother.

“You cannot drive. You could kill someone. A kid. Yourself!”

He hops into his truck.

“If you leave, you know I’m calling the cops, right?”

He takes off and I call the cops, you know, leaving out the part where I helped him escape and all.

I spent the rest of my night blaming myself for any bad outcome and praying they caught the idiot before he hurt someone. I was pissed that he just turned a good life lesson for my kids about helping others into a life lesson about drunk driving.

Okay, so it was also a good lesson in not getting so caught up in feeling like a hero that you fail to see a situation for what it really is.


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Tzipporah La FianzaTzipporah La Fianza is a writer, doula, and homeschooler of four. She also volunteers for Breastfeeding USA. Though she does happen to drive a minivan, she maintains that it's merely a matter of convenience, and that she is not now, nor will she ever be, a soccer mom. Check out her compilation of short stories, essays, and blog posts over at Postpunkchronicles.com or catch her on twitter @TzipporahLaura.

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