Things that happen in carparks….

A friend recently put up a status update on facebook about the fact that when reversing her 4WD out of a parking space, a couple of men began directing her, even though she was not having trouble backing the car out. She was quite annoyed and put out, feeling this implied that she was somehow incapable of safely removing her own car from the space.

I immediately commented on the status agreeing with her. I have had this happen several times, even though I do not and have never owned a 4WD.

Other comments were rapidly made, too. The general consensus, by both male and female friends of my friend was that it was a compliment and did not warrant her annoyance. My friend definitely sits on the gorgeous side of the fence, and was told that that was a factor in her receiving unsolicited ‘help’ from men in parking a car.

Now, as this has happened to me, more than once, I must disagree that it has anything to do with looks. (And just by the way, the notion that her looks were the reason and that she should be flattered and take it as a compliment is more insulting than the help itself! “Oh, they helped because they think I look good? Well, that’s okay then.” Blaaaahhhh, I had that sort of shallow thinking!) NB (late thought): And,Β I also thought it quite an insult to men to suggest that they would only help if the woman was good looking! The majority of men I know, aren’t that shallow and it’s generalisations like this that set us all back, men and women.

I told my husband of the incident my friend had experienced and thus ensued a ‘chat’.

Husband: Men don’t know what they are supposed to do these days. They were only trying to help.

Me: But she didn’t ask for, or need, the help! That’s got nothing to do with chivalry or feminism and everything to do with men thinking women aren’t capable of parking or reversing their cars.

Husband: What if it was nothing to do with that? What if it was simply someone helping someone else out?

So, it got me thinking. Had I been unfair in my thoughts towards those who had ‘helped’ me in the past? Was it not at all to do with a perceived judgement on my driving skills but simply a random act of kindness as my husband suggested?

I don’t get upset when men hold the door open for me, or offer to carry something heavy to the car for me, or give up a seat for me. AndΒ I don’t have a problem with the fact that there are things men do better than women and vice versa.

So, it’s not my feministic feathers that are ruffled.

I’m all for helping someone out; for surprising people with gifts or a visit, if they are in need of some TLC. And I am not above accepting help when I need it, either.

So, it’s not that I am uncharitable and don’t see the need for helping out our fellow man/woman.

It’s the assumption that I need help. And then help being given without me asking for it. Would it make a difference to me if the men (notice it’s never women who try to help you back your car out, though…) asked if I wanted assistance? Yes, it would.

Our children are all great helpers and particularly when younger, were eager to help with any given task at any given time. Trouble with that is, they would barge on in, without asking first if their help was needed. On seeing a sibling struggle with a puzzle, it’s easy to ‘take-over’ and then cry “But I was only trying to help!” when the sibling is unhappy when presented with a completed puzzle.

I have sought to teach my children the balance between always being ready and available to help and respecting someone’s need to do things themselves, unassisted.

Offering help is always welcome. Bullying your way in, on the assumption that someone can’t do something, is not.

Am I being over the top? Should we just be grateful for any help, regardless of how it comes to us?

17 thoughts on “Things that happen in carparks….

  1. I agree with your hubby, not because I’m male, but because of your comments. If someone feels you need help, try to ask yourself why it upsets you ? Is it because of how you feel or are you harboring sub-conscious anger/resentment towards men ? If it is, then it is all about how you choose to feel. By saying the men upset you is only trying to justify your own dislike of men.
    You have virtually said that men think you need help, judge jury and executioner. You must have a deep rooted issue with men somewhere in your life where you were shamed. it wasn’t these men and you may have been subconsciously taking out your anger on innocent people.

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      I don’t have a problem with men at all (I fear if I say I like all men, I will get myself into trouble! πŸ™‚ ). What I realised, and my mistake if it didn’t come through by the end of the post, was that unsolicited help is what I have the issue with, regardless of whether it’s from a man or a woman. The fact that in this example it was assistance by a man is neither here nor there.

      Offering to help is one thing, assuming and then barging in to help are two different things. I think it’s impolite to not ask if someone needs help and rude to just push your way in. In regards to your past problem with overly helpful/mothering types, would the situation have been eased by the woman simply asking if you wanted help/mothering, rather than rushing to do it?

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      • Hi there, thanks for your response, and I now see where you are coming from. Totally agree. I didn’t mean to sound rude or anything like that, and I apologise if it sounded that way. It was only a logical comment and I am glad you took it that way. I’m very new to this sort of thing, and I am learning that written words don’t reflect feelings or intention accurately. All the best. πŸ™‚

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        • No offence was taken πŸ™‚ And you are so right…the written word has difficulty conveying emotion and intention – it’s easy to get caught out with our ‘written word technology’ these days!

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  2. I want to know why it took two men to direct your rather lovely-looking friend? Call me suspicious, call me cynical – and I must admit I would be a little miffed if men started directing me unless I looked like I was having a massive ‘fail’ at the parking, because I happen to be an excellent parker! You are right, I have nothing against lovely helpful people in a time of need, but my feathers are ruffled by the ASSUMPTION, that I can’t do it. That’s all. p.s. I love men.

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  3. Hmmm…good debate. That women’s lib thing is a slippery slope. I like assistance with heavy objects, opening doors, and getting up off the floor from playing with grandchildren! Now that I’m older, I think a lot of men look at me as “old” not as “female.” I prefer a little respect at this age. What I don’t like is men (or anyone for that matter) telling me how to feel, what opinion I should have, or how I should conduct myself. All that was a big reason for my last divorce. Tiny case in point – I made a comment on a friend’s page about a certain Phillies baseball player – I never liked this player – and some man came back and said I was clueless, didn’t know baseball, blah blah blah. He also suggested I crawl back under my rock. I’ve been watching the game for 50 years and following the Phillies since I could read box scores. And yes, I did respond to this man. πŸ™‚

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    • Oh wow! How rude! I’m glad you responded, although, with those sorts of people, it’s questionable whether a response is actually going to make a difference.

      For me, this post has remnants of another recent post I wrote about not giving special consideration because that’s how we should treat everyone. Helping someone out, and the manner in which we go about it, should be the same regardless of age, gender or perceived beauty. Being told how to feel or conduct ourselves is totally disrespectful and I’m glad you are in a better place now πŸ™‚

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      • Yeah, FB guy’s response was very rude – my comment about the player was that I didn’t like him much and he hadn’t done much for the Phillies. My retort was respectful of his opinion (he’s entitled), but also included “I will not crawl back under my rock.” My most-recent ex would argue with me to try to change my “opinion” about something or about my “feelings” (like, how can you feel that way or you shouldn’t feel that way), until I would give up and say okay okay! Bah! Mostly, when people are rude on the Internet, I just delete them! Ha! I disagree with people all the time, but I respect their right to render their opinion, respectfully. Once you go outside mutual respect, you are on MY LIST. *evil grin*

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        • LOL Okay, noted πŸ˜‰

          I really wonder why people have so much trouble when other’s disagree with them. It baffles me that people get so heated and can’t just accept a difference of opinion!

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  4. I agree the least controversial thing to do is to ASK if a person (male or female) needs help. I think I’d feel insulted too in your position, simply because of my past experience with mechanics making the assumption I knew nothing about cars — I’ve been overcharged and treated like I was stupid. They were right about me knowing nothing about cars — but it’s not because I’m a woman. It’s because I’ve never been interested in learning about cars. As professionals, they should treat me the same as a guy who knows a lot about cars. But I digress ….

    My husband used to automatically stand up and offer visibly pregnant women and women he considered ‘older’ his seat on the bus. Talk about a mine field! Some would get huffy and glare at him. Others would smile and take him up on his offer. So now he asks ahead of time.

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    • Totally agree. Assumptions almost never work out! You know what they say – Assume: makes an ASS out of U and ME πŸ™‚
      It is a minefield though, and I do think men are confused and somewhat annoyed by all the different expectations by women. Asking beforehand certainly is the way to go!

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  5. First of all I would like to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Kudos!

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    • Hi Josh and thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

      I find I start with a seed of an idea and mull it over in my mind for awhile before starting to write. Don’t worry about the beginning, you can always go back and change the first one or two sentences once you have written the bulk of the article/post. Being stuck on the beginning can prevent you from starting at all, so just write! πŸ™‚

      Hope this helps!

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  6. Verrrry interesting! I have to say that I run into this when I see elderly people on their own, for instance, trying to reach something on the top shelf in the market. I always want to offer help, but then I am afraid of insinuating that because they are elderly they can’t do it themselves. Even the mere question, “Can I help you with that?” is awkward to ask for fear of offense.

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    • Yes, it’s a tricky one, isn’t it. I have had some interesting feedback and discussions on this one πŸ™‚ Seems most of us want to help but, like you say, don’t know how to without insulting the person. When I figure out a way to approach it, I’ll let you know and you can do likewise when you figure it out! πŸ™‚
      We stopped to help a lady in a carpark who had a massive TV she was going to put in her boot (trunk for you USA people). My husband very politely asked if he could assist – the look of relief on her face was lovely. She said she was just thinking, “Now how am I going to do this by myself?” So, asking, in that circumstance certainly didn’t offend. As we left her, she said “God bless!” and then hastened to add she hoped we weren’t offended by her saying that! Seems we are all a little concerned about offending people these days. I can’t decide if that’s progress as a society or not….?

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