Taking A Moment To Pick Up The Pieces
Sometimes, it’s easier to stop and help than to drive on by
When the tiny town of Millbrook, New York, got two feet of snow in a single day this past March, the result was some slippery streets — and an opportunity for one of the town’s residents to rediscover an impetus to lend a helping hand.
“Millbrook is one of those old-world American small towns where senior citizens still drive their cars around, say, if they need to go into town to go to the post office,” says actor and creative director Dean Temple. “That’s the big social event in the middle of the day. That and the yoga studio classes.”
“When they plow the street, it makes these huge snow banks on the sides, and the snow banks are like concrete. It’s not nice snow anymore,” Temple says. One day, he recalls, he was driving through town when he spotted a diminutive elderly female driver who looked like she was about to hit the snow bank, albeit at about five miles per hour.
“It was like it was happening in slow motion,” Temple says. “I was in my car saying, ‘Little old lady, stop! Little old lady, stop!’ She was barely peering over the steering wheel. And then she just starts plowing the front of her car into the snow bank, and the whole bumper is ripping off.”
“I had an emotional memory of not having stopped before. I didn’t like the regret I felt after that.”
Although his first inclination was to drive on, some better part of Temple’s nature told him to stop. “I stopped my car in the middle of the street and hit the hazards,” he says, “but by the time I got out of the car it was too late, she had already moved though the snow bank, and left all the pieces of her bumper back there in the snow.”
Why did Temple stop? “Without having a specific memory of it, I had an emotional memory of not having stopped before,” he says. “I didn’t like the regret I felt after that. It wasn’t that big a deal, it’s not saving anybody’s life. Although I did probably save her $500 to $1,000 at the body shop. I don’t have a life where I ever have to be anywhere at a specific time, unless I’m going to be late for an audition or something. So this is more of a putting my foot down. From here forward, I’m going to do that kind of thing, in the moments where I can.”
And the old lady? “All I really did at that point was go over and pick up the pieces of her bumper and follow her to where she was parked,” Temple says. “She didn’t even know. She was looking at me funny as I approached. I told her, ‘You left all these pieces of your bumper back there. I’m just going to put it back together for you.’ Nothing was cracked. The bumper was just on there with plastic tabs. So I plugged it back together. It sort of worked like a kid’s toy.”
“I guess there is a selfish aspect to it,” he muses. “You are getting something in return. You get an emotional payoff.”
It’s a good thing Temple was expecting nothing more. “Once I finished, she just looked at me and said, ‘Wow, aren’t you the good Samaritan,’ and she wandered off into her yoga class.”
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user John Talbot)
Posted April 28, 2017