I was reminded again yesterday how we all need help at one time or another. The events, that came as a reminder, left me wondering if we have become so politically governed that we have lost all common courtesy for one another that we cannot even step into compassion.
Tuesday night I came into town via exit 82 from Tri-Cities about 10 p.m and noticed a car pulled over to the shoulder and a man checking his hood. I didn’t stop, I guess I assumed he would call for help or…..Wednesday afternoon as I was once again returning home exiting on exit 82 I noticed he and his car was still there. It was close to 100 degrees, and with it being daylight, I stopped.
The man as obviously distraught. A hot mess in more ways then one. He seemed more than I could deal with on my own.. After talking with him and learning his car had broke down, he had no money, and traveling with a dog. As I reluctantly left him, assuring him that help would be on the way. I then ran to my church to ask my pastor what the protocol for getting someone help, in our community was. Having served on a couple community boards, I knew that there was a protocol… and feeling that perhaps there was a drug, or mental health issue, I wanted to make sure this man got all the help he needed.
I then went to our local police department, who had me call dispatch in RICHLAND, who then passed it on to the STATE PATROL. I then went to the store, picked up some water and dog food for the pooch, as well as some cold drinks and food for the man… hoping against all hope that by the time I got there local officials would be there tending him. They were not.
As I got back, I quickly poured water into a bowl for the “blue”, and cracked open a soda and handed it to the man. I guess he was probably in his early 60s, horribly crippled from arthritis, and my fear of him melted as he began to sob….. he quickly apologized, for the emotions… went on to explain the mess his life was in…. I sat with him along side the road… as car, after car, pick up after pick up passed us by. he told me how in the 14 hours he was sitting on the intersection, I was the first one to stop.
By now he had eaten his lunch and emptied his first soda.. his dog now on my lap, grateful for the water and attention… As I sat there listening to his story, in my mind I was praying the whole time… an hour had passed and still no official help…. I could hear myself asking God, ‘what now?” I didn’t know anything about his car specifically…. but, I knew a few general things… so we tinkered finding nothing obvious…. even tho his gas gauge didn’t say he was out of fuel… I prayed “let that be the deal.. that I knew I could fix.. and by now I knew, no other help was coming.
I excused myself and went home to grab a gas can, really giving myself time to do more praying. I got home, and found the gas can and Matthew…. we returned. To my sheer delight the gas was the thing he needed. The 1 gal of gas in the gas can got us to the nearest gas station where we filled him up and supplied him with more snacks for the road.
By the time I had followed him back to the exit and waved him on… there was still no officials… nor did any of them call me, even though I left info.
No one knows better than I, that bad things happen to good people.,. I am probably more cautious then most ,when it comes to insuring I am safe in my surroundings. While it did require some monetary investment for me to help this man, in truth, it wasn’t what I could buy him that made the difference, it was the fact that I stopped, that I sat beside him on the road, being a witness to his pain and plight.
I will never forget the pain I saw in his eyes as vehicles kept passing him. It was if we were invisible. It broke me.
Yes, he smelled. Yes, he scared me, at first. Yes, it took my time, but I will also never forget the shift I felt in him – when through his sobbing, I assured him that God loved him. When I shared with him the lesson God has recently been teaching me, that when bad things happen, perhaps it isn’t that they are happening TO us, but FOR us.. that we cannot know all what God knows… and that we have to chose to believe that all things are for our favor.
It wasn’t how I planned to spend that time… I had been dealing with some issues of my own…heavy, heart-breaking issues. I wanted to just go home and crawl into a hot tub and let the tears fall….but God had other plans.
I wonder if we have become so cynical as a people, that we have lost our ability to see each other. Really SEE each other.
As I drove home.. now aware of the radio playing in my car… it rang Martina McBride’s, “loves the only house”.. and in this moment…I guess that is right….