How often might we have to take a leap of faith and just trust a stranger? One evening I stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things before going to get my daughter at her pre-school. As I was standing in line at the check-out counter I remember watching a little girl behind me quietly playing while her grandmother stood in line behind us with their cart. As my selections got rung up, the grandmother approached me and asked me if I would drive them home, which I did. For most of the way the grandmother told me how to drive as well as where, to get them home. My only contribution to the conversation was to mention that I had a daughter about the same age and that she was in pre-school, which was required for socialization by the elementary school I wanted her to attend. Of course, I never saw them again and periodically I thought about that incident as another piece in the great puzzle of my life.
One Friday evening as I was driving up Lawrence Expressway with Mika in the back seat, I saw a very elderly looking lady dressed very elegantly, walking up the road (not in the street) but there were no sidewalks, so she was walking on the grass. I tossed my handbag into the back seat with Mika and stopped the car to pick up the lady. She was very grateful for the ride and said she was going up to the grocery store. It was a short drive, but I couldn’t imagine she was doing this all alone, she asked me if I could guess her age, which I could not and she said she was eighty years old and I said that was wonderful. I dropped her off at the store, not thinking about how she would navigate back to her home and I took my daughter out for a fast food dinner as was our habit on Friday evenings.
One of the many times my poor old Volkswagen failed me, I was driving down Lawrence Expressway heading for home, having just picked up my son at the baby sitter’s home. Luckily I was in the right lane as the car just fizzled down to stopping as I quickly got over to the berm. An older man pulled out in front of me, coming to help. He thought it might simply have run out of gas, so he offered to take us to the gas station and back. In an instant I had to decide to take my life and my son’s into this stranger’s hands, and I did and he was honorable and we got gasoline and he poured it into the tank while I stuffed Alexander back into the car. The man talked as the afternoon wind rose and the heavy passing traffic drowned out his words – something about having lost a 19 year old son to the war in Viet Nam. A feeling of grief washed over me and in minutes I thanked him and he became one more driver on this six lane connector between the major freeways in central California.
One time driving the other way up Lawrence Expressway on the way to the baby sitter’s home, again the car simply stopped as I was in the far left turn only lane. I got the children out of the car and onto the island in the middle of the road and a young man stopped in front of me and ran behind the car and lit a flare to warn the other drivers of a stopped car. He was so fast, I never even got to thank him. A man stopped at the light in the traffic on the other side of the road offered to call triple A for me so I gave him my triple A card and with the change of lights he flew off but shortly returned the other way to return my card and say that triple A was en route. Meanwhile two young men parked on the berm on the same side we were on and in a moment of no traffic, they ran toward us, lifted the car up and carried it to the berm with me and the children close behind. Again, I barely had time to thank them and they jumped back into their car and disappeared in the onslaught of vehicles.
One time driving across town here in Cleveland, my father stopped to help a young couple who were having car problems, hoping that the universe would acknowledge his good deed by sending someone to help his daughter in a dilemma. The good deed was re-paid time and again.