Thursday, August 5, 2010

Others in the 102 degree heat.

I was almost home yesterday afternoon in the 102 degree heat here in Louisville. I had gone up to visit Anne to get my hair cut and chatter like a magpie for a couple of hours.

There's this part of I-65 before the Kennedy Bridge over the Ohio that goes from 70 mph to 55 mph. As I was slowly rolling in the midst of a major traffic tie up ahead, I saw an old dark green 70's era Bonneville stopped at the side of the road with a flat on the back right side. The wheel was on the ground and a man was kneeling trying to get the small spare tire on the axle. All the windows were down and the doors were open on the ditch side of the car. I could see two women and young children sitting there; the women fanning.

I pulled over ahead of them and walked back. They didn't have AC working and were hot. There were two children in the car. One was a girl maybe five and the other an infant. I had a bottle of water I'd bought up the road about 20 miles before. They shared it. The man came around to see what I wanted and he got a swallow. The younger woman said they were close to home; just 2 more exits and then into Jeffersonville. "I don't know why this kind of thing has to happen when we were almost home." There's no answer to something like that.

I said, "Why don't you all come sit in the truck? It has air conditioning." The two women did and held the kids in their lap. I had a couple wet wipes from a fast food meal. The older woman used those to cool of the baby. The man went back to the wheel. Shortly after I stopped a cop stopped and helped the man finish.

The policeman came up and told us it was done and they could go on home now. The man walked up to the passenger door and thanked me for taking care of his family. The women thanked me too and one of the kids, a little girl, hugged me.

I was thinking of the day in late June when I was on that same road going north, and had a flat tire. This was during the time Roger was driving nails into the tires of my truck, one at a time. I'd always been closer to home when this happened before, but even though I had checked the tires before leaving, there was another that slowly leaked and stranded me beside the expressway.

I had AAA then and a cellphone. I called and they asked the usual questions; type of vehicle, color, mile marker nearby. I got the tire unhooked from under the truck bed, and got the jack and was organizing things when the tow truck got there. The mechanic finished quickly got it changed. It was over 95 degrees that day and I had AC, but I often think of how it would have been if I'd had to finish the change or didn't have AAA or air conditioning in the truck.

I heard the other day that 99.9% of DNA in our bodies is exactly like 99.9% of DNA in every other human's body. Further more that the entire DNA in existence today is from 68,000 people a long long time ago. There isn't any new DNA. What we have is what we have. No matter what we look like or where our parents and ancestors came from, we are pretty much the same as the people next door, genetically.

If you come into contact with a stranger you are pretty much just like them. If circumstances allow you to spend a few minutes in their company, you will also discover they enjoy air conditioning or heat. You may find that they like to go to baseball games and movies. They like meatloaf or cookies, maybe the exact same kind as you like. It is said that we are all within six levels of separation in knowing every one. In Louisville I sometimes think it's four.

It is more important for a useful interesting life to get to know others individually than it is to be rich or live a long life. I know it is not possible to get to know "every" person. I do know that it is possible to get know one other person or ten other people. At least that's what I believe and I know walling yourself off so you are safe or keeping all your cookies for yourself, is not the most useful or interesting thing to do.