I picked up a stranger by the side of the road this morning.
I had almost run her over. It was a dark and snowy morning, six a.m., two more inches on the ground than had been predicted, roads a bit slick. I was steering the minivan with one hand and slugging coffee with the other, came up over a hill, and right there, more in the road than on the side, was a diminutive person picking their way along.
“Jee-sus!” I exclaimed, somehow slowed without skidding and gave the fragile figure an extra-wide berth.
It was easy to see that it was an older woman who was terrified of falling: scarf tied over her hat, her eyes staring down at her feet, making straight-legged tiny shuffle steps.
Oh, dear. There was nothing else to be done but offer her a ride. I had never done that before. I pulled up, flipped the hazards on, and got out of the car, which was risky in itself, with other haggard, distracted, coffee-slugging commuters on the road.
“Hi!” I called. “Would you like a ride to the station? That where you’re headed?”
“Oh thank you, yes please, that would be wonderful!” she gasped.
I realized that my purse and lunch were piled up on the passenger seat. I rushed to get there before her, and managed to pull all my crap to the console, when I noticed there was still an empty exploded seltzer can on the passenger side floor.
I had left a full can of seltzer in the car, and, it being New England and winter, duh, it froze. The kids got a kick out of the blasted can and a science lesson to boot, so I hadn’t yet bothered to clear it.
Not wanting this proper lady to think I had empty beer cans littering my car, because that’s what a lemon Polar Seltzer can looks like in the dark, I tried to quickly clear it, but it was too far out of my reach.
Hubby had bought me a super-sized ice scraper/ snow brush, which was leaning on the console. I grabbed it and desperately poked at the can, just as this poor lady was opening the car door.
She jumped back when she saw me lunging in her direction with what appeared to be a large stick. “Oh, ha ha, my kids leave alot of trash in the car…” I offered by way of explanation, but her eyes only widened more as I scooped the empty can up and tossed it in the back.
You could see her hesitation. It was dark, cold, and stormy. I’m a stranger dressed in black, driving a minivan with empty beer cans littering the floor. Don’t serial killers always drive vans with empty beer cans littering the floor?
She glanced ahead at the considerably dangerous distance to the train station, then at me, potential psycho.
“Um… Mind if I ride in the back?” she asked.
Not sure how that would keep anyone safe from an attacker, but happy to oblige, I chirped “Oh, sure!”, and then remembered the car seats. She saw them as well, two booster seats taking up the whole second row of the car. And all the trash that goes with them: empty juice boxes, crumpled Pirate’s Booty and pretzel bags…”Oh, geez, sorry, right, the car seats…” I stammered. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to get out and move one.
But you could tell that the fact that I had booster seats and other general proof of motherhood made me a safer bet. “Oh, that’s alright,” and she hopped right into the passenger seat, seemingly much relieved.
We chatted about the weather, more snow than had been forecast, commuting logistics, how expensive parking is, et cetera, and I delivered her right to the front doors of the station.
“Thank you so much for the ride! You are an absolute angel!” she called out, waving, smiling.
This little good deed has made me feel good all day. As a matter if fact, I’ve been extra- obliging with patients and staff alike all day, even cheerfully completing the FMLA paperwork for a walk-in at lunchtime.
Wow. Imagine if I was nice and kind to people all the time? Now there’s an idea.