The Other Side of the Story - Commuter

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The Other Side of the Story - Giving People the Benefit of the Doubt


I'm a commuter. Every day I travel from my hometown to Jerusalem. Usually I take a bus, but sometimes I get lucky and catch a hitch. This is very advantageous, saving quite a lot of time and hassle, not to mention money.

I have many friends and acquaintances who are fellow commuters. So, when one morning my friends saw me approaching the bus stop with an empty car, they probably became quite enthusiastic about a good hitch. However, I passed them by, with an apologetic expression on my face.

Now if this had happened only once, it wouldn't have been so bad. But every few weeks I pass by in that same car with that same apologetic expression.

Now it doesn't stop there: Imagine you're walking on a hot summer day up a steep hill and you hear a car approaching. You turn around to perhaps catch the compassion of the driver, and it's me! You smile, relieved, until you make out through the windshield that same apologetic expression as I pass you by.

Or maybe it was just after a hard day in Jerusalem when I passed you on the way home. To say the least, I'm farthest from your favorite friend any more. "Some friend," you may think, "always has a 'good excuse' not to help me out."

Let me explain. My parents visit Israel for a few months every year. They finally decided it would be economically sound to buy a car instead of renting each time. This would only be beneficial if the car was looked after between visits to avoid additional maintenance costs.

So they left the car in my care. At first, whenever I needed to go anywhere I told my friends, and always stopped to pick up people even if just on the way to the store or back. The next time my parents came, they were a bit surprised to find a few friends (whom I called in advance) waiting by the car whenever we decided to go to Jerusalem, and surprised by all the errands I ran for good friends.

On the day he left, my father told me that I could no longer under any condition take anyone in the car. He never told me his reasoning, but it's safe to assume his concern was for the longevity of his car.

PS: I've explained this to many of my friends, but it's impossible to tell everybody. And it's out of the question to stop for someone in order to explain why it is that you can't give him a ride. Unfortunately I may have already strained some relationships due to the misunderstanding. That may explain the tinge of pain hidden under my apologetic expression.

This may sound odd, but I'd prefer, if you do decide to print this, that you leave out my name. I don't want to make it sound like I am just writing this up as an excuse. It should be enough that people strengthen their sense of judgment through the good work this column does.

(Submitted by an Ohrnet Reader)

The Other Side of the Story Archives

Based on "The Other Side of the Story" by Mrs. Yehudis Samet, ArtScroll Series

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