In nearly every situation, there is an angel who could help. They are often easier to find than one thinks.
Probably the most literal example was at a Christmas party held a number of years ago by a group of Czech immigrants who taught in one of the foreign language education programs I supervised at the time. They invited Doah, who has made a lifetime habit of asking people for help, to attend.
Doah did not know Bohemian traditions, but he quickly figured things out. All the children sat in a circle while Mikolaz (St. Nicholas) read a list of their bad behaviors during the year (prepared, of course, by each parent). The, for each, Mikulaz decided whether the devil, who was dancing up and down in gleeful anticipation near the child in question, could throw him or her into his sack for transport away from this world, or whether the child's behavior had been good enough or contrition deep enough for an angel, also standing nearby, to give a present. Each child quaked. Some cried.
When it was Doah's turn, he must have thought that there was no hope for forgiveness for him. Partway through Mikulaz's reading of Doah's "sins," Doah got out of his child, walked over to the angel, took her hand, and said, "I in trouble. You help me? It your job help people in trouble."
To this day, some people cannot stop laughing at what they perceived as the difference between the "American approach" and the "Czech approach" to a problem. Actually, I don't think Doah's behavior had as much to do with cross-cultural
differences as with his own skill at finding angels. Of course, the angel helped him.
Excerpted and adapted from a collection of vignettes I published, copyright 2003.
Note: Also posted on Mahlou Musings and Clan of Mahlou.