I like to think that I'm a reasonably nice guy with mostly good intentions toward others, regardless of race, sex, creed, or religion. I'll hold the door open for people whether I'm on a date with them, friends with them, or they just happen to be walking behind me into the building. If I see someone who appears to be struggling with bags or packages in the parking lot, I'll ask if they need help. Usually I get a "No, thank you" in response, but I figure that it can't hurt to offer.
I went to the grocery store the other day and I noticed that a mother and her children were dashing across the parking lot, the woman clearly in a hurry. She was holding her toddler in one arm while frantically rummaging through her purse with that hand, meanwhile holding the hand of her other child in the other. I pulled a cart out of the rack and offered it to her, figuring that she'd be able to set her toddler in it and more easily free up her hands. The thought process may have been sound, but the offer clearly wasn't appreciated. As soon as I offered her the cart, I received an icy glare and was told, "I'm not some helpless woman that needs a man to take care of me." The word "man" was dripping with disdain. I'm not sure what my facial expression was at that point, but I was a bit shocked. I quickly took the cart into the store and watched from behind a stack of Clementine oranges a few feet into the store to see what she did next. She dropped the hand of her older child and pulled on a cart with the newly free hand, but it wouldn't budge. She tugged a few more times without luck and wound up setting down her other child, placed the toddler's hand in his brother's, then went back to wrestling with the cart with two hands for a few moments before it finally came loose. She picked up the toddler, set him inside, took her older child's hand again, and went storming into the store.
I felt a mixture of sadness and frustration toward the woman. Clearly she had a lot on her plate and was a bit overwrought. I had an image of her having one of those days where one thing after another was going wrong. But watching the entire process, including her having to set down her son just to pick him up again moments later frustrated me a bit. If she'd taken me up on my offer, it would have been far simpler for her. But I also realized that there are a multitude of reasons that she may have rejected my gesture (she might have been a little nicer about it, but that's a completely separate issue). I made the offer, and that's all that I could do.