Change of SceneWhen you see someone whose car has broken down it’s difficult to get up the courage to pull over and ask if you can help. We’ve all seen the movies where the person in need turns out to be an escapee from a mental institution or the Center for the Chronically Unbathed. The broken down car turns out to be stolen and the person he stole it from is now wearing a duct tape suit and living in the trunk. But that only happens in the movies. In real life it’s much more likely the person he stole it from is lying dead in the trunk.

But don’t let that deter you from doing your good deed. Besides, so what if he kills you and throws your lungs on the highway. The good karma will come back to you in your next life while he spends eternity sitting on an airplane next to a screaming baby with diarrhea. But that’s no reason to not be careful.

After you’ve helped him re-distribute the distributor cap and alternate the alternator, he might want to offer you something as payment. If you’re doing this good deed for the right reason, that is, to help yourself find the spirit of your spirituality, you must decline. No matter how hot his twenty-year-old daughter is and no matter how short her Daisy Dukes are, just say “no”. The hot daughter with the Daisy Dukes is a classic set up. Soon after you take him up on his offer, you will find yourself in a duct tape suit while your lungs happily sun themselves on the highway.

If you are looking for a safer good deed alternative, I suggest you let someone who’s down on their luck stay at your house until they can get back on their feet. Hopefully, “getting back on their feet” is a metaphor. If not, they don’t really need a place to stay. They need black coffee and a cold shower. Then they can be on their merry way, singing loudly and arguing with anyone nearby.

But if someone is truly down on their luck because of an accident with formaldehyde, a foreclosure, or a foreskin problem it’s okay to take them in. You can give the precious gift of time; time for the person to re-evaluate and set goals, time to look for a job, time to get a more realistic set of teeth. Once all that is accomplished, she will be ready to go back out on her own, a new person, confident in her skills, confident in her ideas, and confident in her ability to floss, all thanks to you.

Of course, sometimes they won’t leave. Some people get a little too comfortable. They enjoy watching your big screen TV and eating Fig Newtons all day. Sitting in the bubble bath and smoking your dope may appeal to them more than putting in eye drops and interviewing at Foul-Mart. They may be content to meditate for a job and an apartment to come their way through luck, osmosis, or reverse osmosis. If that happens, you will have to do another good deed.

You must become that person’s mother. Every five minutes, ask if he has found a job. Run the vacuum cleaner anytime he falls asleep. Serve him Brussels sprouts, eggplant, and tuna casserole with raw mushroom soup on top. It’s called tough love, baby. He’ll thank you for it; but probably not for twenty or thirty years.

If all this talk about doing good deeds makes you feel like your head will soon explode, you are in need of a mantra, a linguistic device you can use to deepen your thoughts. Some of you will say your thoughts don’t need deepening. I must disagree. Just wait until the next time you catch yourself mentally calculating the cup size of that cute redhead you see in the elevator every day. If that doesn’t change your mind wait until you catch yourself trying to guess the shoe size of her man servant. The mantra you choose will be a sound or group of words that can create some kind of transformation, sort of like when Harry Potter points his wand at a tree and it changes into a flying porcupine. But your transformation will be more spiritual, more invisible, and maybe even non-existent. Nobody will know but you. If you meditate, it will be your special word to send you into the trance-like state that makes it easy for you to connect with the universe and easy for someone to walk by and pick your pocket.

Your mantra could be one word, a group of words, or a few lyrics from a song. Mine is “Oh-blah-dee, oh-blah-dah, life goes on, bra”, first coined by The Beatles. It’s my sacred message, the gift of song to my own consciousness. It promotes long life, the elimination of enemies, and sometimes it brings me ice cream.

If you concentrate, you can be taken away by the spiritual power of your unconscious mind, or of the unconscious drinker on the bar stool next to you. That is, he was on the barstool next to you until he became unconscious. Now he’s on the floor. So, before someone asks him for a ride in his taxi you need to explain to him why he should pick a better mantra. Obviously, “Drink up, Shriners” is not working.

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Dave Kelley belongs to Pikes Peak Writers and is a board member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. After earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Dave spent several years writing commercials, print ads, and comedy material for radio stations and newspapers. Throughout the 80’s he worked as a standup comedian at The Improv, The Comic Strip, and Catch a Rising Star in New York.