The Kindness of Strangers

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile now.  Something happened this summer that deserved a post all its own and at the right time.  I think this is it.

Many of you know that my husband Paul works away from home a lot.  As in, you never know if he’ll be in the same state from day to day.  For a good portion of this summer he’s been working in Mesa, Arizona.  What he does for work is not important to this story.  What is important is that Paul suffers from chronic back pain that’s bad enough for him to seek out treatment even while on the road.  So, while he was in Mesa, he found a chiropractor to treat his back pain and teach him some yoga moves to improve his mobility.

While he was checking out after a Saturday morning appointment, a distraught woman came in to the office asking to use the phone.  She was missing a shoe and crying, but otherwise looked average.  She tried to explain that her cell phone had died and she needed to call someone to come and get her, but astonishingly, she was refused.  Worse, she was asked to leave.

Paul followed her out the door.  He realized that there he was, several hours away from needing to report in to work, with a paid – for rental car and no reason in the world to not help this woman.

Thankfully she saw something in Paul that allowed her to trust him and she told him her story.

She was a divorced mother of young children who had been persuaded the previous evening by friends to leave her kids with her ex and go out on the town.  Despite her misgivings she went.  She ended up having too much to drink and a man she rebuffed outside a bar called the police and reported her for public drunkenness.

She was arrested and taken to jail to sober up.  Which she did, quickly.  By morning she was released, but had lost a shoe somewhere and her phone calls to friends went mostly unanswered.  Those who did answer were not willing or able to pick her up and bring her the 20 or 30 miles back home.  Having no option, she began walking, but her cell phone soon died and it was quickly becoming too hot to walk with just one shoe (remember this was in the middle of the summer in Mesa, which reached 120 many times this year).

All of the various stores and businesses she approached to ask for a phone call refused and asked her to leave.  By the time she met Paul she was crying and at her wit’s end.

Paul let her use his cell phone and then drove her halfway home; her ex – husband met her and brought her the rest of the way.

What astonished Paul, and later me as well, is how many people turned down this mother who desperately needed help when it would have cost them nothing. That could have been me.  That could have been any of my friends or family, and it’s mighty disheartening.

There’s only one explanation I can come up with for this uncharitable behavior on the part of so many. This woman was Hispanic.  Though well – dressed and articulate she was clearly not white in a town perilously close to the Mexican border, where immigration tensions run high.  Never mind that she’s not necessarily Mexican.  Or illegal.  She looked the part.

Now, I am not here to debate the immigration or border situation in the country right now.  I am not even going to offer you my opinion on the whole mess.  Because really, this is not about immigration or politics.  This is simple humanity.

Refusing to help one woman in need because she *might* be illegal will not encourage more illegals.  It will not send a message to anyone, except that you are unkind to your fellow man.  Or at least a certain “kind” of fellow man.  I understand the frustration and the very difficult situation at the border, I really do.  That is no excuse for bad behavior.  I am going to repeat this: politics are not an excuse for maltreatment, neglect or abuse, no matter your leanings.

My husband saw a woman, a mother, a fellow human in need. Period.

At one point or another in life, we are all human beings in need.  Let us hope that there is a kind stranger for US to turn to.

3 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. Beautiful and encouraging story. Thanks for sharing, Amy. Paul, thank you for your kindness. I, too, am a divorced mother raising children.

    We, as human beings, walk alone day to day far more than we realize, or so is the experinec for some.

  2. Thank you for your post. I am so glad that your husband helped this woman out. I have let a crying stranger use my cellphone before. It doesn’t hurt anyone to do such a small service and it’s so sad if people might not have helped because she was latina. I’m glad people like you and your husband are in the world. It gives me hope.

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