Judging Others – A Lesson in the Desert

The Biker

Several years ago I decided to make the long trip to southeastern Arizona to visit my father. We had a nice visit and when it was time for me to drive home I decided to take a different route home to see some of the country I hadn’t seen before.

The Breakdown

My trip across the desert was going fine until I made a stop and saw steam coming from the engine of my car. I added water to the radiator and tried to continue on but before long the engine began steaming and overheating again. I tried that remedy a few more times but realized I would never make it home at that rate. I limped into the next small town and talked to a mechanic. It turned out my water pump was going bad. Unfortunately they were closing in a half hour and told me they couldn’t help me.

I had tools with me so I thought I would try and replace the water pump myself. I bought one at the local auto parts store and then looked for a place I could work on my car. I found an abandoned rest-stopa mile or so outside of town and pulled into the empty parking lot and began to work on my car.

To my dismay, I couldn’t loosen the bolts on the water pump. I tried and tried but they just wouldn’t give. The sun was about to go down and I was getting very discouraged. I just wanted to get home and it didn’t look like I was going to make it.

The Stranger

As I was standing there, staring at my engine, I heard the sound of a motorcycle. I looked up and saw a man on a Harley Davidson heading in my direction across the empty parking lot. He was wearing a leather vest, leather pants, a bandanna on his head, earrings in his ears, various tattoos on his body, and chains hanging off his clothes.

I assessed the situation. Here I was all alone in the middle of nowhere and here was this man coming towards me that didn’t look like the kind of guy I wanted to meet up with. I remember thinking to myself, “I am going to die right here!” I was sure he must be carrying a gun and was going to rob me and then shoot me, execution style. My wife was going to be a widow. My kids where going to be fatherless. I even started imagining what my funeral was going to be like. I was scared!

He parked his Harley nearby and walked over towards me. I was bracing for the worst.

He asked me, “What seems to be the problem?”

The Near-Death Experience

“Oh,” I thought, “he’s just softening me up before robbing and killing me.” I told him my situation and instead of killing me, he helped me. I was shocked! He told me to loosen the radiator cap just enough to let the pressure off the cooling system and I should be able to make it home fine. And guess what, that’s exactly what I did and it worked just as he said. I made it home without further problems.

I remember as I was driving home how bad I felt that I had misjudged this man. He was really a very nice guy – just a bit different than me in his choice of clothing and jewelry. It taught me a great lesson to not be so quick in judging others just because they may be different than me in some way. It taught me that I need to be more accepting of people for who they are.

The Challenge

My challenge to you is to be more aware of how you are treating others. Do you treat all people with equal respect and kindness or are there some groups that you tend to treat differently than others? Ask yourself why that is and resolve to change. Work more on being inclusive, not exclusive. Look past the differences and see the common good in all.

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