Last week I was working on a story that required me to take pictures on U.S. 60. I pulled my car over on the shoulder and got out, leaning against my door with a camera in hand.
Then it happened. An old, rusty pickup truck pulled onto the shoulder with me. The driver stopped behind my car, opened his door and walked toward me.
My initial thought, however horrible it is, was to run. As many of you know (I am told I wear it on my sleeve), I am from New Jersey, a place where maybe one person out of 100 would pull over to help someone. So immediately, my heart starts thumping.
“Are you all right dear?” the man said.
“I am fine, thank you,” I replied, still nervous.
“OK, just checking,” he said before getting back into the truck. “I didn’t want to leave you out on the road.”
I was out on that road for just over half an hour. Five cars — five cars! — stopped to make sure I was OK. There were women with children heading to day care, businessmen, even a couple flying out of Barkley Regional Airport who weren’t even from Paducah!
As a reporter, I strive to have at least one story a week that highlights the good in people. Far too often, the bad things make the news. But even after reporting on cancer survivors, charities with humble beginnings, and good deeds that save lives, the number of people who stopped, without knowing who I was, genuinely surprised me.
Without knowing it, I adopted a pay-it-forward attitude. A woman at Wal-Mart dropped everything in her arms and I helped pick it up... you know, that kind of stuff. And you know what? I feel better. Not only do I feel accomplished, but I know I made someone’s day a little better.
Last week, I got a little taste how far being nice can get you, how much it can influence your day. All it took was a handful of people slowing their cars on a busy interstate. This week, I am going to make a conscious effort to have that same awareness, smile a little extra and help out where I can.
I know that this kind of thing should go on year-round. I know that doing the right thing should be a constant. But in a society that is all hustle and bustle, especially around the holidays, it’s important to remember what is important. This isn’t about spending money or becoming Mother Teresa, it’s about being the change you want to see in the people around you.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652.