Monday, 1 November 2010

The Value of Altruism

When I was 11 the careers advisor at school told me that I was well placed to work in the caring profession. When I recount this to my friends they fairly hold their sides with mirth as I am not known for my overwhelming compassion... In fact when Handsome found out he was Diabetic my initial reaction was to roll my eyes and declare my hopes that this would not become an excercise in man-flu-ism. That said, I try to be a Good Person. I am aware that fashion is probably one of the most egotistical (and faintly ridiculous) industries in the world. The fact that it is also economically one of the largest goes little way toward defending its position in the face of its consumerist aim to make people spend money they don't have on things they don't need. And much as I (mostly) enjoy my job, I don't buy into the idea that clothes make people happy and therefore I am Doing My Bit. Frankly on a scale of 1 to 10 in social philanthropy (my role as a mother, partner and friend aside) I am probably hovering around a 2.5. And it is for this reason that I make a point of doing my bit for others where I can. Don't misunderstand- I am certainly not going to win any medals for Outstanding Acts of Human Kindness but I do think it is the little things that make a difference to others and at least make me feel like a better person (no such thing as altruism-the virtue of selfishness and all that jazz).

So cut to Tel Aviv airport at 8am this morning... We had decided to catch the early bird back to London which entailed leaving our apartment at 6am with a gazillion suitcases, 2 sleepy children, a husband in 'travel mode' (many of you will realize that this is code for 'seriously edgy with a short fuse pre-lit') and limited coffee intake. Just setting the scene. On arrival the check-in queues are ridiculous, and security was the usual OTT rigamarole (each person subjected to a personal Mossad style interogation). This is quite a labour intensive process- what with the juggling of kids, bags and husband and at some point in all this I noticed a elderly woman huffing and puffing in irritation behind me. Clearly she was annoyed by the circus that is my family and our faliure to progress with more speed. I also noticed that she was carrying a heavy bag which she had to keep putting down and picking up due to the sporadically moving queue. Feeling my halo start to glow I picked up her bag and indicated that I would carry it for her and therefore eliminate her problem. In return she indicated her graditude and we progressed through security. After an hour of queuing, checking and searching we finally made it to immigration. I had puffed, panted and sweated with this womans bag whist simultaniously managing my family through the airport, but at this point we were obliged to present ourselves as a family and I was confronted with our parting of ways. Oh the dilema! Should I take her bag through wait on the other side for her allowing my family to go ahead to our gate? Should I find a porter? What could I do? And all the time I was pondering this conundrum of how to help this little old lady the queue was progressing and we were nearing the front. Suddenly a new immigration booth was opened and my little old lady- seeing her moment had arrived reached down with a new found and surprising athleticism, grabbed her case and fairly skipped over the the booth. In a second she was through and with a hop, skip and a wave was off and away. She may as well have thrown "Suckerrrrrrr" over her shoulder as she sprinted down to her gate. Handsome is on the floor with laughter as I rub my sciatic nerve and as for me? Well I am just reminded of the blind man I once helped across to road only to find on the other side that he wasn't blind and had in fact been fully aware that my boob was my boob the whole time he gratefully grasped it during our crossing.

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