Dear Mr. Helpful…
And, actually, Ms. And Mrs. and Mx. Helpful as well,
I know most of us feel the urge to help those in need. However, in the future, I’d like you to consider a few things.
1. Things are not always as they seem. It’s true, I’m on the small side. I was taking that hill pretty slow on my bike. I was sweating and breathing hard. However, I bike that route often. I’ve gotten up that hill just fine hundreds of times. I didn’t need you to randomly cheer me on, though that was fairly harmless. I definitely didn’t need you to grab my basket from behind and give me a “helpful” push. It obviously didn’t occur to you that I was driving. Do you know what we call a sudden impact when driving? A crash. Really not helpful.
2. You don’t know me, or my history. Like I said, I’m on the small side. I’m short and slender. I’m also female-bodied. As a result, I am often physically underestimated. I have asthma, too. I can’t always lift as much or run as far as others. Biking is one of the few times as an adult that I feel really strong. Your cheering and push sent the message that even at my strongest, I need help. Probably not what you intended, huh? That’s why we ask first. Speaking of which….
3. I don’t know you. There are liberties we allow people we know. For me, physically handling me or my belongings is one of those things. I don’t like being touched by strangers, beyond the inevitable crowding on public transit. Random person, when you reached over and tucked my tag in without so much as a warning, you crossed my line. Thankfully, I don’t startle nearly as much as some. I don’t, for example, have flashbacks, disassociate, or lash out. I didn’t even think on it it much beyond, “WTF? Creepy.” But please don’t do that again.
What is the worst “helpful” gesture someone has made for you? What would you have liked them to have done in that situation? Share in the comments!