Thursday, January 12, 2006

Confirming a Well-Founded Bias

Last evening confirmed another inner city bias for me.

Actually, now that I think of it, I received two confirmations.

On my way home, well after dark, my front tire blew out. I wasn't going fast, but I was on a fairly dark, deserted side street not far from my office.

I hate it when that happens.

I don't enjoy changing tires, especially when I am already running late with take-out ordered from one of my favorite local "joints."

Of course I shouldn't complain because until last evening I had never had to change a tire on the car I'm driving these days. Have had a flat or two--after all, this is East Dallas!--but all within driving distance of our local tire shop that specializes in fixing East Dallas flats.

The flat confirmed my first bias--a negative one. The streets of my neighborhood have more nails per square foot than any where on earth!

My second confirmation was much more important.

As I was down on my knees trying to figure out my wonderful, compact jack system, a man appeared from nowhere. Just sort of emerged from the dark street. He was there so quickly that he startled me a bit.

He had a flashlight, a smile and a simple question, "Need some help?"

I love it when that happens!

My car had come to a stop in front of his house.

"I thought I heard someone bangin' around out here," he continued. "I can see you got trouble. Didn't want you to have it alone!"

Turns out that my new friend works in a used car lot and has daily experience with flats, blow-outs, brakes and auto finance!

We worked as a team for about 15 minutes and the job was done.

In that brief time lapse I find out that his birthday is today--mine is tomorrow! He is going to be 53, I'll be 56--where do the years go?

When I had the tools stowed and my friend thanked properly, we talked a bit more.

As I was getting into my car, he invited to come back and visit sometime soon.

Oh, and he gave me a brief lecture about getting on down to the tire shop for a new spare.

"Don't be driving around here without a solid spare now!"

My new buddy confirmed my bias: the vast majority of the people I know in the city are just great folks. Lots of good people living tough lives.

Nothing much to fear here, except missing the opportunity to meet as many neighbors as possible.

I hope your neighborhood is like mine.


Jason Coriell said...

I live in a rural area. I've always felt that the average guy is a good guy. Your post reminds me that city-people are OK too.

Mike said...

Larry - Great story. And happy 56th, my friend! Mike

happytheman said...

Larry - When I was in 8th grade I had to take summer school and would walk 6 miles every morning and then get a ride home. Every day I walked through the inner city of Long Beach and the same guys would be out front of this neighborhood store playing dominoes. One day I was getting harassed by a bunch of high school students and these old guys came across the street and smacked the kids on the back of the head and told them they know where they live and leave me alone. They bought me a soda and from that point until Summer School was over I stopped and talked with them every day. Learned how to talk smack when I played bones too. Happy B-Day

Larry James said...

Thanks to you all!

Happytheman, thanks for sharing your experience as a child. Sweet stuff!

Paul said...

Happy Birthday, Larry.

Thanks for sharing the story. I worked for seven year in Rio de Janeiro and met many wonderful people among the poorest on earth. There is good in people.

Anonymous said...

Larry - did you hear about the report stating Dallas was "The Meanest City" based on attitudes to homeless?

Can't wait to see the blog on that.

Jeremy Gregg said...

Actually, I think we're number 15, according to the Dallas Morning News.

But, it is an interesting point.

Larry James said...

Dallas ranked number 6 on the list. More to come!