This was one of those rare mornings when I was up, awake, showered, dressed, dropped a kid at designated location, and managing to run errands....all before 10:00. These kinds of mornings don't generally happen very often when you're a "non-morning" person, and quite honestly, it amuses me when I find myself being that productive.
On this rare productive morning, I stopped at a local grocery store to pick up a few things. It wasn't even my "normal" store, but one that I drive by frequently. While I was standing in the check-out lane, I noticed that it was exceptionally dark outside...and raining.
Is there anything more frustrating than trying to load groceries in your car when it's raining? How about when it's pouring rain? Having to walk out into the rain with your shopping cart and dodge the drivers who don't see you but are only focused on the empty parking spot straight ahead. Or attempting to avoid the small lakes that are forming in the parking lot, or shielding yourself from the raindrops - which is just physically impossible.
I stood just inside the automatic doors contemplating getting stupidly wet or waiting it out. Knowing that my other two monkey children were waiting for me at home, however, made my decision for me. I pulled up the hood on my jacket and got ready for shower #2 of the day (If only I had brought my body wash and shower poof with me.)
"I picked the wrong time to walk to the store."
I looked to my left and there was an older, distinguished-looking gentleman, in shorts and a t-shirt without a jacket. I smiled at his attempt at levity and we both rolled our eyes at the wall of water falling outside.
I don't know what caused me to react instantly, but I did.
"Sir, where did you walk from? Can I give you a ride there?"
This gentleman looked at me in disbelief. Yep. I had just offered a stranger a ride. (My poor mother is probably reading this in horror thinking she failed at giving me the "stranger danger" talk.)
"Would you mind? Really?"
No, I didn't mind. It was pouring rain and there was some minor flooding going on in the streets. We could have rolled our eyes together at the weather and I could have walked out with my groceries, and not have had another thought about this stranger.
But I didn't. The ride was basically just across the street and down the block a bit, but far enough that anyone walking would have been completely soaked and their bag of groceries water-logged. And for that short 5 minutes, I got to meet Jack, and learn just a little bit about him (he used to work for the post office downtown for 30 years until he retired 8 years ago). We exchanged a short pleasant conversation this morning at a time of day when I'm normally not even functioning.
As I drove home I thought about this chance encounter with Jack, and I said a quick thank-you for the opportunity I had been given to meet this gentleman. May we never become so self-absorbed in our own little smart-phone worlds, or fearful of the evils of the world, that we miss the chance to help a stranger truly in need.