Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Person

The weather has slipped quietly into fall. Just a few days ago, the heat stirred the a/c unit to buck up and keep the house at a comfortable temperature. Suddenly the night temperatures plummeted. We are in the mid thirties during the night and I was excited. I don't to heat well and the fall temperatures were welcome. I spend more time outdoors then in and on one of these days while out running errands, I drove by a woman trudging down the highway. She leaned forward into her walk letting gravity pull her forward. Her purse in one hand and a shopping bag in the other, she looked worn out and it was questionable on whether she would reach her goal. Obviously she was not doing a pleasure walk but one of necessity.

There go I but for the grace of  (insert higher power of your choice here).  Being a single mother for many years, I feared I would lose my job or my health and be homeless, carless and penniless. This instilled great empathy for others down on their luck.
I slowed down and hit the window button and asked "Do you need a ride?"

Her bright blue eyes looked out of a haggard face, sheened in sweat. Her long grey streaked hair was pulled back and up into a ponytail that was thin and straggly. She initially refused my offer saying she didn't have far to go. Traffic backed up behind me. I pulled forward and off the road to turn around and go back. This time she accepted my offer and opened the back door. I had the front seat filled with my shopping and no time to clear that seat for her.
Another mile down the road and she directed me to her home. There wasn't much time for talk but she did say she was without a car. Her son had driven her car into a large pot hole in a parking lot and the car had been damaged and had to be towed. Her 'check' would be here soon and she could buy some food. "I'm cooking a big pot of beans so we can eat tonight."
She said she had spent over 200.00 on taxis the day before and her money was now gone until her 'check' came in.
I left her at her door with a promise to check on her every day to see if she needed a ride anywhere.

I have a fully stocked freezer and a pantry that overflows with too much stuff. My daughter sometimes shops my mini store here.
The thought of someone hungry living just a mile from me was just too much to comprehend. I scooped up frozen chicken and  hamburger and various canned vegetables, noodles and spaghetti sauce, mayo, oil, margarine, bread and sugar along with toilet paper.
Within a few minutes I was back at her house with bags of "stuff". Most of this was bought on sale and 'stocked' so it wasn't a big money expenditure on my part. It would feed her little family until she got her 'check' which was due in two days. Later that evening I made a trip to the market for shampoo, conditioner, soap, coffee, creamer and Ramen noodles. I still didn't know much about  this woman and the predicament she faced except for the broken car.

A little more information was gathered. In her rapid hurried way, she talked about her son that was a little autistic. He met me at the car to help carry in the groceries, a handsome young man that I guessed might be in his early teens only to find out later he was 27. Her life story was disjointed, the bits and pieces difficult to merge into one coherent biography. I did gather that two of her children lived in New Orleans; one a lawyer, the other with a master's degree in social work. I left her with the shopping I had done with plans on returning to check on her the next day.

On the afternoon of the second day, I drove into her driveway and sounded my horn. She peeked out and said she was fine and didn't need to go anywhere.  The walk I found her on the day before  was back from CVS pharmacy where she had to pick up an antibiotic for the pneumonia she had. She was resting.  I drove on.

This was my weekend. I had promised her that on Monday when she got her check I would take her across town to pay the tow bill and have her car towed to her house so she didn't have to pay the storage fee. Monday arrived (yesterday) and as promised, after receiving her phone call I drove around and collected her for the  trip across town with a few stops afterwards. During this ride, she shared her story. I tried to not look slack jawed shocked. I should have been prepared. One of my friends kept telling me there was a lot more to this story then a "broken car" and there was.
(to be continued when I have a bit more time)..................

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