Being reluctant to ask for help has gotten me in trouble more than once. Yesterday was a good example.
Yesterday was the Brooklyn-Queens Bike Tour and I had a booth at their post ride festival. Now that I have been to dozens of these types of events, I have a fairly good idea of what to bring. I boxed everything up and compared the price of renting a Zipcar for the day or taking an Uber each way. The Uber won.
The issues started when the Uber driver pulled up and grumbled about how I had too many boxes. He dropped me off at Citi Field, the location of the festival. I didn’t quite know where to go, but I saw tents across the parking lot that I figured was the event. The driver had already stopped and opened the trunk, so I got out, unloaded my things onto my hand truck, and he pulled away.
I started rolling my goods towards the tents and was intercepted by a Citi Field security guard, who told me I was heading in the wrong direction, the parking lot I needed was on the other side of the building, and I couldn’t walk through the parking lot because of security reasons. 20 minutes later, after walking around the baseball stadium, pulling/yanking my 100 lb trolley over cracked concrete, I’m told by the security guard on the other side that I was misinformed, and that the event was where I thought it was and I’d have to go back.
The festival was much smaller than I had anticipated and almost everybody was just giving away things for free, which makes it hard to sell anything. It was also a terribly windy day and my display blew over every few minutes. I (and my helper) would lunge over the table to hold down everything when an especially strong gust of wind would appear. I really regretted wearing a dress. But so is the nature of outdoor events.
As the event wound down and I assured my assistant that I was good to go, that I just needed to roll my stuff to Roosevelt avenue for my Uber to pick me up, I realized my phone was almost dead. I hurriedly packed up, requested an Uber, and started rolling in what I thought was the right direction. One of the wheels of my beloved hand truck broke off and became unusable. I started doubting that I was walking the right way. My phone rings, the Uber driver says he doesn’t want to enter the parking lot, and leaves. Then my phone dies.
I decide to carry my things in two trips to the entrance of Citi Field nearest the subway stop, about a half mile away, where I hoped to hail a cab. I carried over the first half of my stuff, mostly display materials that I didn’t even use because of the wind, and hid them under a shrub in the garden near the front gate. When I returned with the second lot of materials, the first stuff was gone. Stolen? I suppose, but I was too exhausted to care. I hailed a cab and went home. Today I’m incredibly sore: my right wrist aches incessantly and I’m walking with a limp, as if I ran a race too fast and too long.
I have had lots of shitty days like this with Po Campo, days that involve a lot of schlepping and misery. A tiny voice in my head asks, “Maria, why don’t you ask someone for help?”. Why didn’t I demand that the first Uber driver take me to my destination? Why didn’t I pull one of the festival volunteers aside to help me carry my stuff when my hand truck broke? Why did I wish my assistant a good ride home when I had a twinge of doubt that my phone might die before I could call an Uber? Why do I think muscling through the misery alone will show the universe how committed I am to Po Campo?
It made me wonder about the other times when I’m too hesitant to ask for help because I wanted to prove that I can do it myself. It’s as if I have this fear that if Po Campo fails, someone can point to some instance when I could’ve “tried harder”. Despite knowing that my willingness to pull a 100 lb load across broken concrete isn’t what will make Po Campo succeed.
Or am I just too quick to take on too much of the burden? I too often volunteer to do more than my share, or bring someone on to help with a project, but then end up doing a lot of it myself anyway, to be “helpful”. The Uber driver made me feel guilty for not paying more for the XL service, so I didn’t insist that he bring me to the right place, because I didn’t want to put him out any more. But I’m paying for his time, so why should it matter?
So herein I resolve to not be an idiot about these things any longer. If I believe that Po Campo is an idea worth spreading, which I do, and if I believe that doing events is a good way to spread the idea, which I do, then asking for help is what I will do. Because a burden shared is a burden halved.