Decked out in our finest outfits, last weekend my husband and I hit the town for a night out at a friend’s wedding. It was the first time since having the baby that we both put some effort into our appearance and were ready to eat, draaaank and dance. Unfortunately, minutes after completing the main meal we got a call from his parents that our little one refused to go down for the night. My husband, being the gentleman he is, insisted that I stay while he headed home. He knew I had spent the entire day getting ready for the event and needed this, like really needed it. So off he went to tend to baby while, after a short grief-stricken moment, I made my way back to the dance floor. I figured I’d Uber home but the friends we were with insisted on driving me back when I was ready. Aware that my girlfriend was having a really good time, I hesitated accepting the offer but her husband was adamant, “you have a baby,” he said “so you decide when we go.” While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, I was surprised by the ease at which they were willing to go out of their way for me. I wasn’t exactly on the way home and to top it all off the midnight buffet was about serve up some poutine! Ok fine, we waited for the poutine then hit the road.
Most people reading this will probably wonder why I even bothered writing about it but the truth is, no matter how much we’d all like to believe in our holier than thou-ness most people also don’t happily go out of their way for others. When I recently insisted at a party that the gesture was a noble one, friends of mine laughed at the simplicity of the act unwilling to realize that when put in a similar position some may have done the same but not without showcasing a little discomfort. Can we really be blamed though? We live in a culture of convenience where hassle-free is no longer an option but a necessity in almost every aspect of our lives. Industries are built around our inability to withstand discomfort. Just the other day I was waiting in line at a store and observed an entire rack dedicated to making our lives easier from an avocado tool to a mushroom slicer (God forbid you just use a knife). Goods and services like single serve coffee machines, pre-foamed hand soap, meal kits, robovacs, smartphones, smart homes, Amazon, Amazon Prime…take nearly all effort out of the everyday so when push comes to shove folks tend to have a hard time with even the slightest disruptions.
Think you belong to the selfless easy-goers? When was the last time you gave up a Saturday night to babysit a friend’s kid, woke-up early to help someone move, assumed more work for an overwhelmed colleague or helped an acquaintance get a job? Did you get mad when the delivery guy showed up late, the waiter messed up your order or the contractor took a little more time than expected? I once gave up my bedroom to an out-of-town guest and was surprised when others reacted like I had offered up a kidney.
Yes maybe it wasn’t a grandiose gesture but in a world where human connection seems to be on the brink of extinction and doing something nice for someone else just because you can becomes second to “why should I?”, I choose to recognize that in a moment of need my friends stepped up to the plate.