Just kidding. It's not that long.
An experience I had a few days ago has been stuck-on-rewind in my busy brain and I'm having a tough time forgiving myself for two eensy thoughts I had when it happened.
It took place in a grocery store parking lot. I parked my car in a side lot, turned the corner toward the main entrance and there on the curb sat a woman hunched over, knees drawn up to her face, head in her hands, sobbing loudly.
I couldn't walk past as though I didn't see or hear her and also couldn't blithely ask, "Are you okay?" because that question had already been answered. So I stopped and said,
"Can I help you?"
She looks up at me, dark eyes red from crying. I guess her to be in her early 40s. She's wearing black Capri pants, white top, flip-flops reveal well-manicured toenails painted glossy black, identical to the color on her well-manicured fingernails.
"Are you going to Aurora?" she asks.
"No, I'm sorry, I'm going in the opposite
"I need to get home. I have no way to get home."
"Did your car break down? Is there someone I can call for you?"
Those questions trigger a resurgence of heavy sobs and the telling of the tale that landed her on this curb on this particular day as I passed by at this particular moment.
Lost her job in September**
mother passed away in October**has high blood pressure**out of medication**outstanding 'tickets' led to a warrant for her arrest which led to spending last night in jail and now she had no way to get home.
Not meant to lessen the seriousness of the woman's plight, but this photo is so cute and I want you to know this story has a happy ending....
"Well, that's the bad thing about cell phones," she says. "You don't have to remember phone numbers anymore and I can't remember my friend's numbers."
Taking her home would be 20 miles out of my way but I considered it. For 2.4 seconds. I say to her,
"I'm going to get my groceries. Maybe you'll remember a phone number while I'm in there. You can use my phone to call." She agrees, I go on my way.
My shopping took 15 minutes and really, I didn't expect to see her still sitting on the curb but she was.
"I remembered one!" she exclaimed as I approached.
"Great! I'll go get my phone."
Now this is the stuck-on- rewind part of my tale.
She stands and I get my first good look at her. Not a small woman. Taller than me by a few inches, heavier than me by, oh, 25-30 pounds. As I turn to walk back to my car,with her following me, Bleak Thought #1 gives the, never-thinks-the-worst, side of my brain a hard kick.
Pssst!! She could be
lying, making it all
up. Desperate people do desperate things.
Is this smart???
I'm carrying a bag of groceries and my wallet, car keys are in my pocket, phone is in the car. All she'd have to do to get all of it is clobber me with something hard enough to render me damaged and unable to stop her from taking off with my belongings.
I reach the car (all's good), unlock and open it (still all good), set my groceries on the floor and reach for my phone in the center cup holder then Bing! Bleak thought #2 pops up:
If it's going to happen, it will be now.
I calm myself with the fact that it's just stuff. Everything she could take is replaceable. Everything but me, and I don't think she's that desperate.
Nothing happens. No kick, whack or thump anywhere on or near my person. I close the door and turn to face her, ready yet not ready for her to attack me with, I don't know what. A grocery cart? Slap me silly with a flip-flop?
Two attempts to dial the number result in success. Someone answers. The desolate lady says,
"Barb, can you come get me?" She shares her woeful tale, repeating several sentences that are drowned by more floods of tears.
Conversation finished, retrieval arrangements made, she hands me the phone and thanks me.
"You're welcome. I'm glad things worked out."
She nods, wipes her eyes. "I have to wait an hour but she'll be here."
"Good." I pocket my phone and walk around to the driver's side. "Well, enjoy the day. It's a beautiful one."
"You too." And she smiles for the first time. A nice smile. "God bless you."
Those three words shouldn't make the person they're directed at feel ashamed, but they did. I couldn't take back the thoughts I'd had of her and I knew why I'd had them. True accounts of good vs evil, good vs greedy, good vs opportunistic, good vs desperate were the root of my paranoid thinking.
Since that day, I've apologized to her many times but she didn't hear me and will never know what I'd feared or what I regret.
Have you experienced a similar situation? How did you react?