I want to get this off my chest: I ask strangers for rides.
“What?!” you gasp, half confused and half concerned for my safety. “Like hitchhiking? That’s dangerous!”
Well, no, it’s not exactly hitchhiking. I don’t stand on the side of the road with my thumb out, hoping to get a ride from any ol’ person who happens to drive by. I choose wisely! It’s slightly different!
And here’s the thing– it’s also strengthening my faith in other humans. And maybe even in fate. You’ll see why.
I’ve missed the bus to campus. It’s dark, cold, and I’m going to be late for an important babysitting job– the mom I work for is also a student who cannot miss her class. In my silly, desperate mind, I’d rather walk to the house than take the next bus, and figure that either way I’ll be 10-20 minutes late. I might as well leave immediately and get a head start, right?
Only, I really miscalculate the distance. It (quite obviously) feels so much shorter when you’re driving! Close to a drugstore parking lot, I figure I’m not halfway there… and though I traveled an impressive distance in fifteen minutes, especially considering the state of our icy sidewalks, I knew I would be putting myself and the mother at an inconvenience if I continued with my awkward hop-slide-jog.
It’s too late to go back and none of my driving friends are available, so I do what any other rational person would do in my situation– I glance around the drugstore parking lot with hope in my heart and search for someone who can give me a ride.
Now, don’t get me wrong– I at least try to go about this in a smart way. Older couples are usually a safe bet, as is anyone who looks like a mom. But on this particular night, I spotted a lonesome middle-aged man walking with a cane.
I quickly jumped over a snow bank and breathlessly approached him as he was about to close the car door.
“Excuse me, sir?” He turned around, a bit startled. “I know this is a really strange request…” He gives this knowing smile that tells me he’s already predicted that strange request, “… but would you mind dropping me off somewhere?”
No longer surprised, he ushers me in the car, only asking I be careful of his cane. As he drives me around in a little hybrid that warms my frozen limbs, he asks about school, classes, and my major. He tells me about himself- how he owns a sporting shop downtown; how he needed surgery on his spine; and how, since he was so active before, it’s a difficult adjustment to have such limited mobility.
There was no drama, no blockbuster plot twist– he dropped me off near the house, safe and sound, and I got on with my evening. I thanked him profusely and ran off, thinking of how lucky I was to meet such a kind man.
I said before that this strengthens my faith in other humans. This, right here, is a prime example that there are people who exist and who don’t want to hurt others. All of the stories we hear on television, in the news, or on the radio seem to be bad. Every day, we hear about violence and depravity. How often to we hear about the good things? How often are we told of the kind stranger who’s willing to give a young a woman a ride? Our society is rather cynical, but there are millions of reasons to believe that humans are good at heart. This isn’t the first time I’ve been given a ride from a stranger (alright, I know it’s not the best habit), and time and time again I’ve found that the people you meet are more willing to help you thank you’d think.
I also said that maybe, just maybe, this encounter strengthens my belief in fate. I’m not one to think that everything happens for a reason. Coincidences, in my opinion, are just coincidences. But I keep thinking of how strange it is that out of all the people who could have helped me, it was a man who had spinal surgery…
Before she passed away, my mom had a spinal operation. I know how devastating it is for someone to lose their mobility. Although a great part of me feels this is a coincidence, a smaller part keeps thinking it might have been something more. Isn’t it strange that I connected to someone who went through the same thing as my mom? Out of all the paths I’ve could have crossed, mine coincided with his. That’s amazing, in the original sense of the word.
Now about this man– I know his name and the store at which he works, so I’m going to leave him a little gift in return for his kindness. A card with an uplifting note and a little bit of candy sounds nice. I want to give him something that makes him smile, that reminds him good deeds are appreciated. I also want to write him something a little more intimate and ask him to keep hope, love, and positivity in his life. All of that will be essential to his healing.
What’s your opinion on all this? Fate or happenstance? Are you just concerned about my life habits? Have you actually hitchhiked before and already know how kind people can be?
Hope you’re all having a lovely week! Stay safe!