Published in Ciao and gather.com
Assistance, a beautiful word but I think it is a thing of the past. There are various ways we can be assisted and as many ways or more that people refuse to assist us.
The banks for one decreased or stopped their assistance when they brought in the automated machines. Some banks are completely automated here in Canada and good luck if you want a smiling face to help you with your banking needs.
I deal with two banks here in Quebec, the first one will no longer exchange money at the counter, it is all done through the automatic teller unless, you need to cash a foreign cheque or you need to get a money order, but, if you want to cash a domestic cheque and or put in or retrieve money forget it, it is the automatic teller or nothing. I hate that. I see older people all the time who need assistance and they don’t get it. When I am near enough to them in the line waiting for the teller I do help them. However that is not my job though I don’t mind doing it, it is the bank’s job is it not?
When was the last time you got a human voice on the phone when you are asking for assistance? You get the proverbial press 1 for repairs, press 2 for billing inquiries etc. By the time you get a person on the phone, you may have waited as much as an hour and half the time when the person comes on they can’t or won’t help you. The digital world is supposed to make things easier for us, the operative question still remains, easier on whom?
Okay I am old fashioned and though I believe in woman’s rights whatever happened to a gentleman helping you with your groceries by taking them to the car, or at least opening the door for you. Oh yes the bag boy will take your bags to the car here in Montreal, for a tip that is.
Also I noticed that very few people will assist you in a bus, especially the bus driver, ask him a question and your lucky if he even grunts. Many times the passengers have had to answer my questions for me.
Here in Montreal we have one seat on the bus reserved for handicapped people, good luck if two or three elderly or handicapped people get on the same bus because very few people will assist you by giving up their seat for you.
Have you ever noticed that when you are in a department store, when you don’t need a salesperson they are humming around you like bees around honey, yet when you actually need assistance they are nowhere to be found?
What about family, friends, and neighbours? Okay I realize people with cars are not running taxis but, have you noticed they all know you don’t have have a car and they see you dragging grocery bags home every week on foot and yet could they even once offer to take you to the grocery store with them when they go? It happened once that I went with a neighbour but he layed down his rules, don’t take too much time I am in and out and I don’t wait for anyone. I ran around that grocery store like a madwoman afraid to be left behind.
Assisting strangers can be dangerous especially in a big city like where I live, but what happened to compassion and human kindness? I can hardly walk, I have to sit down where ever I can to ease the pain. One day I sat down the first pair of stairs I saw to get a break. The lady of the house came out and asked me what I was doing. I told her my situation and she responded, “well don’t sit here go over there and sit.” Geez was I really hurting her?
I remember a time when I was a young woman and my son was just three years old. It was before the days of cell phones. I was visiting a friend who had just moved, and I could not find her street. I was desperate and I was scared, I rang the doorbell of a stranger and explained that all I wanted to do was make a phone call to find out where to go, the person kept screaming no, no, no, get out of here.
I went to another house and a woman answered the door heard me out and though she wouldn’t let me in she did bring the phone to the door for me, I made the call found out how to get to where I was going and I thanked her for her assistance.
Now I am not saying that no one assists a stranger because we all know people who do. Yet, generally speaking most people do not. They ignore the situation and leave it for the next person that comes along. We live in a society where everyone wants to pass the buck. Why it that? What happened to the concept that we are all human and at some time or another we all need assistance?