Dear Crabby, How Do You Decide Whether to Help Others?

Dear Crabby,

I always want to jump in and help others, but it doesn’t always seem to work out. How do you decide whether or not it is worth helping others out?

Sincerely, Sally Samaritan

Dear Mrs. Samaritan,

I learned a long time ago that you should really qualify the situation before you get involved. My father taught me when I was very young to make sure someone is asking for your help before you try to help them out. There is no better example of this then when I tried to help a local man in Mexico with his flat tire. Let me give you the background first. My good friend Sam and I took our two daughters down to Mexico to visit a Catholic Mission. We had rented a Jeep on one of our last days down there and wanted to just sight-see and enjoy our time with our daughters. Shortly after hitting the road we ran across a local guy who had a flat tire on the side of the road. He did not speak any English, of course, and did not appear to have a spare tire. We jumped into “Good Samaritan” mode and tried to help out. I immediately saw what type of tire it was and told him to jump into our Jeep as we headed back into town. We asked every mechanic and merchant in the area if they had this size tire, but no one did. Finally, after hours of looking and calling and realizing we were the only ones who didn’t speak Spanish in the whole country, we were at our wits end. We drove the poor guy all the way back to his vehicle and tried to apologize as best we could. The guy seemed to be pointing in the other direction and trying to say something. We finally figured he must know someone that way and so we drove him up the road a bit. Sure enough we came upon this little house with a barn out back. The man jumped out of our Jeep, went into the barn and came back carrying a new wheel with a good tire already on it! I could not believe it, this guy knew the tire was here the whole time, but I didn’t listen to him. We drove the man back to his car and he put the new wheel on in about ten minutes. The day was wasted for our daughters, Sam and I, but boy did we learn a powerful lesson. Even to this day when I talk to my old friend Sam I’ll ask him if he has run across any old spare tire tricks lately, and Sam will chuckle because he knows exactly what I mean. So, I guess the moral of the story is that you should listen first, ask if they know what they should do, then only get involved if they ask you to. Good luck and let me know how it works out for you.
Sincerely, Dear Crabby

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Stuck in a rut? Need some biased advice from a crabby old baby-boomer? Read regularly by thousands and loved by some, Dear Crabby answers questions weekly to life's challenges. Send him a note at

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