Never understimate the goodness in people
ON Thursday August 15, I set off on my motorbike from Dublin, destination West Kerry. I’m excited. Weather forecast is not bad, and no rain due. It’s my first time on the three-lane Kildare motorway and it makes a big difference. Before Portlaoise I leave the motorway as I want to amble along quiet roads and also plan to call to the Cistercian Abbey in Roscrea. I’m shocked at the death of rural Ireland, empty villages and towns. Why are we allowing this to happen?
As a child I had often been at the Cistercian Abbey outside Roscrea. It’s a stunning setting, large parklands, a church, monastery and school. My maternal grandparents married in the abbey church and my father was at school there.
Today there are nine Cistercians in the abbey, ranging in age from 52 to 92. A notice in the church saying there is Mass on Sundays and Holy Days at 12.30. Alas no 12.30 Mass today, the feast of the Assumption. What at all can its future be? A million dollar question.
Off and away on the bike, taking quiet roads to Dunkerrin and then back on to the motorway. I relax on the seat, give the bike throttle and slowly but surely I notice the bike is not responding. No matter how high the revs go the bike is slowing down. I’m now down to 40 km/h. Nothing else to do than to pull over on to the hard shoulder and turn on the flashers. I crawl on at less than 25 km/h and then decide to stop. It’s not a pleasant experience to be stopped on the side of a motorway nursing a clapped-out motorbike.
I’m in the AA, which is a source of relief. I’m anxious, standing on the side of the motorway. Just as I’m wondering what to do a lorry pulls up. I go up to the cab. The driver asks me if I’m in trouble and I explain my plight. He drives a motorbike and knows about bikes. He gives the bike a quick check and thinks I have a clutch problem. I explain to him that I can phone the AA. While still checking out the bike he says that his truck is loaded with pallets of cardboard but that he might be able to load the bike. I’m gobsmacked by his
offer. He opens the back of the truck, spends approximately 10 to 15 minutes rearranging the pallets. He lowers the ramp. We wheel the bike onto the ramp. It’s my first time on such a ramp. I’m scared of falling off. He presses the button to lift the ramp. He closes the truck doors, raises the ramp and off we drive.
I introduce myself and he does likewise.
We spend the next hour in conversation. He tells me that he lost a young child to meningitis. As a result of his experience he set up an organisation which facilitates the speedy transfer of blood to hospitals using motorbikes.
Later telling my story to a Bus Éireann driver in Limerick, he remarks that truck drivers are renowned for their kindness to fellow-drivers in trouble on the road. It was worth the motorbike breakdown to meet this man.
It’s at our peril that we underestimate the goodness of people. It’s so easy to complain and criticise. It can be lazy too, especially when we so often are surrounded by goodness and kindness.
It’s been a great lesson for me.