Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 17: Asking for Help

Today I called my dear friend, Khalid, to ask him why he wasn’t in class last night. He called me back a few minutes later, obviously harried.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there last night. I'm sick.”

“What’s wrong?”

He explained to me that he had a terrible toothache.  He called for an appointment, but the dentist couldn’t see him until the twenty-fifth. In the midst of this terrible pain, he was on his way to drop off his brother Ali for surgery to have his tonsils removed.  And he'd just finished dropping off his sister, who had to take her son, Ismail, to get braces.  After he took Ali for surgery, he was going back to get Khadija and Ismail, then back to the surgery center for Ali.

“Oh my God, Khalid! Why didn’t you tell me? I’ll call my dentist. She’ll be able to get you in and look at your tooth."

“OK. I’ll call you after I’m done with Ali.”

I hung up and immediate called his sister, Khadija. Her English is much better than Khalid’s. “Khadija, can I come pick you and Ismail up so Khalid doesn’t have to do it?”

“Yes please!”

I went over and picked them up, then we went to the surgery center. After getting Ali settled at home, Khalid and I went to my dentist, who not only saw him today, but also fixed the lost filling. For $60 cheaper than what Khalid’s dentist was going to charge him two weeks from now!

Why do I mention this? No, not so you all will think, “Oh, she’s such a wonderful person.” THIS is why I tell you this: sometimes you simply have to ask for help. I was truly angry with Khalid that he didn’t ask me for help. He’s in pain, his brother is having surgery and his sister has to take care of her son. Why in God’s name would you NOT ask me for help?

He said he didn’t want to bother me, of course, which is what we would all say. And it’s absolutely true—we don’t want to bother people. But I’ve noticed that the same people who never ask for help are the same ones we’d do anything for. My best friend Suzi almost never asks me for help. Occasionally she’ll ask my advice on how to write something, but generally she goes it alone. It’s a little annoying. :-)

I totally get the “not wanting to bother” people idea. I feel the same way most of the time. But I’ll tell you what--being on the receiving end of Khalid’s not wanting to bother me felt really horrible. I was truly sad that he hadn’t asked me to help lighten his load today, not to mention it was terrible that he'd had to suffer so long with a toothache. 

So next time you’re in a situation that could be made better by the help of a friend, reach out and ask for it. Sure they might say no, and that would be unfortunate. If they do, don’t take it personally. It’s possible that I might have had something going on if Khalid had asked for help, and I would have had to tell him no. But what would have been the harm in asking?

The adorable photo on this entry is Kitty Rescue by fofurasfelinas.

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