“Come back!” I shouted at my dog a few years ago, when he was alive, but my huge German-Shepherd pretended he hadn’t heard my voice as he chased the poor, thin, undernourished, straggly bitch, who suddenly stopped, turned on her back with her four legs in the air, and looked at my fellow helplessly, “Do what you want!” she seemed to say, “I am at your mercy!”
Thankfully my chap seemed to understand her helpless gesture, sniffed at her uncertainly, then moved away and back to me. I knew she was the mother of three pups lying in a field in my colony.
Two days later, those pups were orphans as the poor mother was bitten badly by another dog, who didn’t have a compassionate heart like my fierce guy, and she succumbed to her wounds.
Playing helpless didn’t work this time.
Around thirty-five years ago, when the Maruti 800 had just come into the market, I sold my old Fiat, and bought one. Now, for those who don’t know, the 800 came with features that were new to many. So, there was this aunt of mine, who used to travel with me, and I explained the new features to her, which for her use was basically just one; how to unlock the door from the inside to get out of the car.
This aunt loved acting like a little child, and every time we came to a halt and she had to get off would turn to me and say, “Bob, please open my door!”
And I would.
One day I didn’t. I asked her if she remembered how to open the door, she said she’d forgotten. I told her she had another half hour’s drive left to figure out how to do it.
She worked it out in five minutes.
There are many amongst you I’m sure, who think this stemmed from a streak of cruelty in me. No, what made me put an end to her helplessness was the thought of the day, she could be stuck inside such a car alone with no one to help her in her helplessness. There are many like her, and many whose helpless stance like the poor mother dog didn’t work. To such as you, do I partly address today’s piece: Start learning, whether it’s to open a car door, learning new technology your phone offers, or even living independently!
Learn to shrug off your helpless act!
And to those who love helping these helpless human beings. Start teaching them patiently to stand on their own feet. Maybe it feels good to lean across a helpless person and flick the knob that opens the door, but the joy of taking them from helplessness to independence is far greater..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org