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Greek-American Stories: Help!

Dimos was telling the guys at Dixon’s about what happened to him one night, late last week. “Last week, in the diner, I felt pains in my chest and I couldn’t catch my breath. I got scared that I was having a heart attack, or something. A customer of mine noticed me and offered to take me to the doctor in his car that was parked outside. He took me to Dr. Arostakis who sent me to the hospital for tests. My customer took me there too.”

The others listened, avidly with concern about their friend. John asked, “how did those tests turn out?” With a smile of relief, he responded, “oh, they turned out all right. But, the whole incident sure gave me a scare. Then, the customer drove me home. I was so grateful I gave the customer fifty dollars for all his trouble. Hey! He went out of his way for me. I was grateful.”

John nodding said, “what a nice guy! But, you were generous, too, though he sure deserved it.” The others agreed. Kipreos said, “didn’t you have an accident a year ago when you twisted your ankle?” Dimos nodded. “Oh, yeah! That was when I slipped on a snowy sidewalk outside my house. My neighbor, I remember, witnessed it and helped me up and took me to the emergency room. He waited until they wrapped my foot and then he drove me home. I gave him a gift of twenty dollars and filled his car with gas.”

“Things can happen any time. We don’t have cars so in those kinds of situations thank God for good-hearted people. A reward is nothing compared to the deed. It doesn’t matter. It’s the assistance that counts,” John assured them, drinking his coffee. Yiannis listened but said nothing. George recounted a time when one of the workers at his job had hurt his hand badly with an axe. “I hailed a taxi and raced him to the hospital. He got stitches and then I took him home. I paid for the taxi. I didn’t mind. Hey! We gotta help each other in times like that.” They all nodded in agreement. Reaching for a second donut, Yiannis listened and continued drinking his coffee.  Then, he set his coffee down. “Fifty dollars! When you paid him all that money, I’d bet he’d be happy to take you anywhere, any time, again. It was a lot of money, Dimos!” Dimos smiled. “Money is just paper! Material things don’t really matter in times like that, Yiannis. It’s finding help when you need it and showing appreciation. That’s what really counts.” He added, “I’d have paid one hundred dollars! It’s scary when you feel ill and you know you need help and someone to take you to the right place,” said John. Kipreos, looking serious, recounted a time when one of the waiters had collapsed and he was the only person around. “The café part of the hotel was closed. So, I, quick, telephoned for an ambulance. It came and took him away. The boss gave me a reward of ten dollars.”

George, trying to lighten the tone, said, “let’s hope things like that don’t happen any time soon,” he told them, looking serious and hoping to change the solemn mood that had pervaded. They all promised that they’d act with speed in any situation like that. Then, he said, “George is right! But, I am asking, if ever any of you see that I am having another attack like that, wherever that happens, be sure and act fast and call the hospital as fast as you can. I’d be very grateful!” Setting his coffee cup down, Yiannis looked up and said, “How much?”

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