I was walking out of a grocery store recently and saw a gentleman in a wheelchair getting in his van. He was trouble getting his chair to go up the ramp…I walked right by him and thought, “what the hell am I doing?! This is so unlike me!” I ran back once he was settled in his van and peeked in his window. ” I’m so sorry, I was going to offer to help! It looked like you’ve been doing this a while and I didn’t want to offend you by offering. I’ve offered help to people before only to be yelled at, so I’m sorry I didn’t offer.” With his calm, genuine smile he said “no worries, don’t ever let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. I appreciate the offer, don’t ever be worried to offer help.” Still smiling, he thanked me for the offer, even though it was late, and drove off.
I could have felt awful. I could have not gone back. I could have judged myself for telling him “I meant to offer”. But I didn’t, neither did he, and I was grateful. Next time I will offer to help right when I feel the urge and not take it personal if I “offend” anyone for offering a helping hand.