Knock, knock, knock…
Loud and insistent, I feared for the integrity of the old front door already warped and cracked and weak. Looking between the slats of the window blinds, I saw no car in the driveway and was about to walk away when the loud, insistent knocking came again. I opened the door a crack.
“Can I have a glass of water?” The brown eyes set in the wide face atop a tall, large figure of a woman met mine and must’ve registered the blank look I knew I had on my face.
“Remember me? I hang out with Tim sometimes and I just walked and realized I must be dehydrated.”
Yes, I remembered, and Tim had just left to go rescue her boyfriend who’s car had refused to start when he shut it off to go into the convenience store a few blocks away. This was the icing on the cake of a day of texts and phone calls to Tim, who said that there was trouble in paradise. “What do you do when friends ask for advice, you give it, you give good advice, and then they blow it out of the water?” he had asked earlier in the day.
“I got mad at him, so I left him and started walking,” she explained between loud, big gulps of the water I had poured into a tall glass. She walked back out the door and sat on the front porch. A few texts to Tim netted a request that I keep her there so that he could talk to his friend. The car wouldn’t start.
Not at all coherently or in chronological order, the hulk of a woman related the story to me when I joined her on the front porch, hoping I could accomplish what Tim had asked of me.
“They threw me out of the house and won’t let me back in. They are horrible, said I wouldn’t do what they asked me to, yet I mopped the floor when they asked. They never do the dishes and they’ve been sitting in the sink for three weeks all moldy. I can go to my uncle’s, but he won’t let me come there unless my boyfriend comes with me because he doesn’t want to hear me cry all the time. He won’t, he doesn’t want to leave his friends. I just want him to love me like he said and he should choose me over his friends. Since I don’t have a car, I can’t get a job. I don’t want to go somewhere to live with people that will feed me and put a roof over my head but won’t comfort me. I need comforting right now. I’m upset and I need comfort.”
Whew. Standing there, staring at my feet, I summoned up a few ideas and gave it a try. Go to the uncle’s, get a job. Go to another friend’s apartment within walking distance of several places she might be hired. Maybe you need a better man. “I don’t want to,” and “I don’t want to” were my responses. So, I fumbled an excuse to go back into the house to frantically text Tim. The boyfriend’s car still wouldn’t start.
It was a jump from my car that got the thing running again. I could feel nothing but frustration and a bit of anger. Tim gave his all trying to help his friend, and I gave all I could muster. I don’t know where those two went, but Tim and I headed home in our respective vehicles. He was upset and frustrated, but had to wind down to get some sleep before work. The night shift is a bear, even when you get enough sleep, and Tim now had a long night ahead of him.
For days I had been thinking about needs and wants, trying to articulate just how to differentiate between the two and prioritizing accordingly. It’s a task usually accomplished during the teen and early adult years, and I’ve run into several young people lately that seem to be struggling in this area. At the same time, I had been thinking about how important it is to consider those around us in everything we do. It’s just too easy to fall into patterns or habits that completely disregard everyone in our immediate vicinity, and too easy to miss the signals of resentment the lack of simple consideration can cause. Put the two together and you have a jumble of a problem that can end with a serious wedge in any relationship, whether that be girlfriend and boyfriend, or mother and daughter.
In the end, I have to take my own advice, the same advice I had texted Tim during the day’s drama: There is no helping some people. Not very eloquent, but there it is. Sometimes, the lessons just have to happen. Everyone has to learn about the difference between needs and wants and that consideration for others is a necessity.
My heart races when there’s a knock at the door. Living in the country, a knock at the door means a crisis. Those knocks, thankfully, rarely happen. Now, living in the city, knocks come more often – the neighborhood kids come to visit, church solicitors (for lack of a kinder word), utility reps and the pizza delivery. My poor heart.
There is no helping some people.