Posted August 1, 2008on:
I almost didn’t notice her as I drove by. At the last minute, I saw her standing on the exit ramp holding a battered sign made from a piece of a cardboard box. On the sign, she had written “Please help. Need food.”
It would have been so easy to ignore her. Plenty of other drivers had passed her without a second glance. But the image of the woman standing in the heat under a blistering sun, humbly waiting for someone to help, stuck in my head.
I drove on to the gas station, my reason for even being on that overpass. And as I pulled into the gas station, I thought I could just run in a pick up a few things to bring back to her. It wasn’t a big convenience store, but they had a few essentials like bread, peanut butter, and water. What about some fresh fruit? There were bananas in a basket display by the counter, so a couple were added to my meager finds. Back in the car, I grabbed a bag and put my purchases and a couple of peaches that I had already in it. Hoping that she would still be there.
She was still standing where I first saw her. She heard me call over the traffic noise and ran over to get the bag I offered through my car window. We exchanged a few heartfelt words. Mine of good luck and wishes for a better time of it. Hers of blessing and thanks.
I should have thanked her for stirring my compassion and giving me a chance to help someone in need. She gave me an opportunity to be better than I usually am. Which is really worth more than $15.00 worth of food.
We’ll likely never meet again and wouldn’t recognize each other if we did. I don’t know why she was standing on that ramp today. Life obviously is difficult right now. Maybe it was the loss of a job or an illness or a divorce. No matter what, she was a other person in need.
I don’t write this because I think I’m a good person for doing this. I just encourage you to recognize those opportunities to “pay it forward”. This was one of those for me.