How many times have you witnessed a situation in which someone appeared to need assistance? What did you do? Did you look the other way? Did you stop to offer help? Or did you — like so many others — make the assumption that someone else will show up?
But what if no one ever showed up? What if, in fact, YOU ARE THE SOMEONE ELSE everyone is waiting for?
Maybe It’s Me?
Unlike most mornings, I left the house early today; I needed to take care of a few errands before starting my work day. My intention was to return home early enough so I could prepare for a late-morning meeting.
On my way back home, I noticed a car sitting in the middle of a busy highway. Smoke was drifting out from underneath the hood.
At this point, I assumed the car had overheated, and that its driver was already calling “someone” for help.
As I drove by, I slowed down and noticed an older woman (maybe about 80 or 90) climbing out from behind the driver’s door.
“Don’t worry,” I thought. “She’s fine. I’m sure she has a phone, right?”
It was me “questioning” whether or not she had a phone that caused me to slow down my truck and look for the next turn-around; luckily, it was just a few feet down the road.
When I approached her car, I didn’t see her, and I started to panic. “Where is she? What happened? Where’d she go?”
Then, I looked to my right. OMG! She CROSSED THE HIGHWAY, and was now making her way to a house nearby; a house, which clearly, was unoccupied.
Immediately, I knew what she was doing: she was looking for help!
I parked my truck behind her car, turned on my hazards, and got out. As I crossed the highway (by the way, she’s got balls — that was a terrifying experience), I noticed she was attempting to climb up the stairs to knock on the door.
My heart stopped as she stumbled backward and nearly fell to the ground. However, she didn’t. It was as if an invisible pair of hands caught her mid-fall and gently placed her back on steady ground. That’s about the time she saw me on my way to meet her.
When we met, she thanked me. And then asked if I had a phone. Of course I do; I always carry my phone everywhere — even across a busy highway.
Within moments, we had her son on the other end of the phone and explained where we were. He said he’d be there as quickly as possible.
“You don’t have to stay. He’ll be along soon,” she said.
“It’s OK. I’ll wait,” I replied.
We talked, and we waited. I learned a lot about this woman in the 20 minutes we waited together. I learned that, although she had a cell phone, she couldn’t see the numbers or hear through its speaker. I learned that she lost her husband, of more than fifty years, to a recent heart attack. And I learned that sometimes, just sometimes, other people might not stop.
A Moral Obligation (and a moral to this story)
While my story certainly isn’t unique — lots of folks go out of their way to help others — it does serve as a reminder that sometimes WE are the ones who must stop; WE are the ones who must do the helping; and WE are the ones others may be waiting for.