Looking Out for the Other Guy: While Driving and in Everyday Life

Shantel - Cedar Park, Texas
Entered on November 29, 2007

I believe in looking out for the other guy. Ever since I received my driver’s license my father has repeated the same thing to me every time I walk out the door. “Don’t forget to look out for the other guy,” he would always say. This statement has a more universal meaning to me than just looking out for the “crazies” on the road.

I was so excited when I advanced into high school; it was then that I could begin going on mission trips with my church youth group. In 2005, the youth group and I made our long trip down to the coast, to the dismal town of Port Lavaca, Texas. As we drove through the town, I thought, “These houses are going to need more than wheelchair ramps or exterior painting.” My group and I began working on digging eight holes for a wheelchair ramp. The summer sun beat down on us, but we continued to work diligently; we had many more houses to get done during the week. We had heard that the man in the house hadn’t been out in several years. His legs had been paralyzed in a car accident and he told us he would be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. His face resembled that of a caged animal, remembering what it was to be free. He took the time to roll to his door and converse with us throughout the day, though. Even so, digging post holes for the ramp became an extremely monotonous job. As I swung the post-hole digger up in the air, I allowed the weight of it to bring itself down, crashing into the hard Texas soil, only to pull out a pathetic amount… Only 17 more inches to go! As I labored through the long eight-hour day my mind wandered to the imprisoned man and his predicament. Was his depression a product of the bland landscape and poor, forgotten town, or was it caused solely from his accident? After two long, exhausting days we finished the wheelchair ramp, painted it, cleared the brush out of his yard, and mowed the “weeds” that were his lawn.

The look on the man’s face brought tears to everyone’s eyes. We knew right away that we had made a huge difference in his life. He looked out over the new wheelchair ramp, like a small child that looks at a tricycle or a bike for the first time. This was his path to freedom. We knew he was ready to go out into the world once again. I have never felt such pride in my work as I did that day. I made an impact in that man’s life; and as a result, I started to believe that I can make a difference in this world.

If we don’t take the time to “look out for the other guy,” who will? I always make sure to look out for the other guy on the road while I’m driving, but we should also remember to look out for those around us, whether they are sick, making bad decisions, or just lonely. So, always remember to look out for the other guy, whether he is in need, or in need of direction; you never know when you will be the person in the wheelchair, longing for freedom.