I’m Only Hospitable When I Get Paid For It

Local ABC 7’s Twitter account posted this yesterday, which prompted me to click on the link.

As a rule, I don’t help stranded drivers. (I realize that’s an ironic statement, seeing as how I work in the Hospitality Industry, but on those occasions, I get paid.) The biggest reason for this is because I lack knowledge on what lies underneath the hood and the car. I am proud of myself when I can identify the holes for wiper fluid, gas, and coolant, and have a pretty good understanding of how to jump a car battery. Apart from that, your guess is as good as mine.

My second reason is due to my physical stature: I’m short. It used to take me two hours to wash my VW Beetle by myself. I used to climb in the trunk of that car so I could wipe the inside rear window. My Jetta’s washing time has only been reduced slightly, but it still takes me a while to wash, dry, and wax.

And a tiny reason of why I don’t stop and help: I’ve heard too many stories from my Security Directors at work. My Assistant Director has constantly warned me not to get out of the car to help a stranded person, just in case the other party has other motives.

My then-boyfriend was once witness to this display of being inhospitable. We had just exited the 405 freeway and were heading back to my parents’ house. The car next to us was making gesturing motions that they needed/wanted something. However, they didn’t have their window rolled down. I pretended to ignore them and then made my turn.

“Those people looked like they needed help,” my boyfriend told me.

“I’m not giving people help at a freeway exit. What if they had a gun?”

I also pointed out an apartment building that was nearby. “See that building? There was a drive-by a few years ago and one tenant was killed.”

He looked semi-shocked. I figured it was my hard attitude from having lived in LA for so long that made me that way (my ex is from a very small town in Indiana).

However, there was one occasion where I did attempt to offer help.

I used to work at the Grove. Employee parking in the structure was ridiculously expensive, so we would all try to find street parking wherever we could. On a good day, I could find parking in between Ross and K-Mart. On an average day, I would park somewhere near Be The Boy’s place (although I wouldn’t find this out for another 5-7 years) and then spend the next 15 minutes walking/running to work.

On this particular day, I lucked out and found a spot near Ross/K-Mart. I had an opening shift, and there wasn’t a soul in sight. I was putting on some eyeshadow with the aid of my rearview mirror; something from the corner of my eye saw a moving figure near the ground.

I turned around and looked. A man was rolling side to side on the sidewalk.

I panicked. He didn’t look homeless, but he looked crazy enough to do something. And he was blocking my path towards the Grove.

I kept my phone in my hand, my workplace number already dialed and ready to go if something should happen to me. I made my way over to the man and briefly thought about passing him by, but my conscience hit me: what if he needed medical attention? What if it made the news that a man was found dead on Colgate, right near the Ross parking lot? What if I would need that kind of assistance someday?!

I screwed up my courage and approached the man.

“Do you need help?” I asked. Inside I was debating if I could outrun him or scream loudly if he tried to grab me.

“Nope.” He spoke clearly and continued to rock from side to side.

“Okay.” I stepped away from him and made my way to work.

And that was my one exception to the rule.

So if any of you get stranded in your car, good luck to you in getting help. Because I sure as hell won’t come.

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