Stopping by a Moose/Intrinsic Rewards

Yesterday driving through MA, I spotted a moose in the woods. It was huge. My friend who was driving turned around so we could all see it. We stopped on the side of the road and my husband got out to take a picture. Just then the moose moved, and my friend backed up a bit to see it more clearly. Only she backed off the road into a deep, snowy trench that her efforts dug the car deeper and deeper into. It was looking like we needed help. The first car by was a woman who said that cellphone reception was not possible where we were and she would drive to the nearest station to send a tow truck. My friend kept trying to pull out but sent the right-hand tires into the snow even deeper. Every car that came by stopped to help. We really are good at that! Some got out to peruse the situation and give a push. Finally a small guy realized that what was needed was muscle from the snow-banked side of the road pushing the car sideways up onto the road. He and a larger guy and my husband all got on the side ready to push. I worried that they would get pinned between the car and the bank. But they did it. The left wheel grabbed the road, and we made it after much tire spinning and tread-wearing. We cheered the guys who happily went back to their car with hails of thanks yous and Happy New Years. As we drove off, my friend said, “Should we have given them money?”

It struck me that money or some present is what we have come to expect for a reward. In my parenting work, I highly discourage rewards for children. So I said, “No. The fact that they succeeded was their reward.” And isn’t that so? What we witnessed was the true meaning of intrinsic rewards: hard effort, dangerous effort even, to help out a stranger in need, and success at the accomplishment. That was their reward—and a well-deserved one at that. Thank you again, guys, where ever you are!

And we hope that the tow truck driver was not too inconvenienced to see that we had gotten out before he arrived. Thank you anyway!

Happy New Year to you all!