LETTER: This Holiday Season, A Little Humanity Goes a Long Way

Letter to the editor from Ryan Smith, Byram

I love the holiday season. Since I was a kid, it always felt cozy, warm, and most of all, friendly. I was hoping to share a story publicly about how regardless of turmoil that seems to plague our world, there is still goodness in people. Unfortunately, my uplifting story was met with a bit of shock, and a big feeling of disappointment.

A bit of backstory: I grew up in a small town, and my family had a local business that had been around since 1928. I witnessed my dad help person after person. One time when I was about 8, we had just had a huge snowstorm, and a little old lady was shoveling a path down her driveway. We were in our truck, which had a snow plow. He pulled in, plowed all the snow away, and then gave her a ride to church. That is just one story of many, where when you saw someone that needed help…you helped them. Simple as that.

Fast forward to this morning. Greenwich was coated with a layer of ice, and although beautiful…it was cold and caused some problems. We had a busy morning ahead. I had to drop my daughter at school and then take my wife to work, and we were running late. Murphy’s law was in full force, as I turned the key of my car, and nothing happened. The cold had took its toll on my battery and it needed a jump to get started. After a heavy sigh, I thought about calling roadside service, but we didn’t have that kind of time.

I noticed that the employee parking lot of the local boat dealership in Byram was pretty full. Remembering my childhood, I thought: “This is a family business that has been in Byram for years. I am certain they can help.” I walked over to the shop (which is literally next door to me), and asked the gentleman inside if maybe he would be willing to help me out. He said “Ask my cousin back in the garage”. I opened the door, and there were 3 or 4 guys there. “Good Morning guys,” I said as they just kind of stared at me. “I live next door, and the cold weather took a toll on my car, I was wondering if one of you could give me a jump”. Three guys said nothing. The fourth said, “I only have the jumper box, and that is technically considered a service call.” (In other words…make an appointment, fill out paperwork, and let me bill you for the 5 minutes it will take me to walk outside and jump start your car).

I was shocked at the dismissive reaction. I was shocked at the lack of humanity. I was also angry that there are really people that can look at neighbor asking for help and simply not care. I could feel my face turning red, and before I completely lost it, I just left them with a somewhat sarcastic “Merry Christmas,” and left.

As I walked back across the street, from this family owned boat dealership on the Byram River, I reluctantly knocked on my upstairs neighbors door. I really didn’t want to bother him so early in the morning, but alas, I needed the car to start. “Sorry to bother you, but I need a jump.” He said, “give me a minute.” He changed into some outdoor clothes, walked out, and jumped my car. The entire process took about 7 minutes.

The message of this letter is: It is easy to get caught up in life, and not look at each other with humanity. I am guilty of turning a blind eye now and then. As we close in on Christmas and Hanukkah, try to remember others. Be like my dad who plowed that lady’s driveway. Be like my upstairs neighbor who took 7 minutes of his time to save my day from disaster. When faced with people like the guys from the boat shop who couldn’t be bothered…remember that there are many people that DO care. Focus your energy on the good in the world!