A lot of times life throws things at you and there is nothing you can really do about it. Sometimes your gut tells you something and when you ignore it, you regret it. Let me see if I can explain this.
My buddy, Keith, is home from Afghanistan. Keith, my brother-in-law, Stephen, and myself were watching the N. Y. Jets play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. The Steelers had just scored a touchdown to put them ahead 17-0. And all of a sudden I had this feeling that I needed to go home. It was an urgent feeling that made me somewhat uneasy.
A couple of plays later, Pittsburgh picked up a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown making it 24-0 Steelers. There were still four minutes left in the half. I turned to Keith and I said, “At halftime I’m going to run on home and tell the kids goodnight.”
Halftime came and that feeling… that uneasiness still held onto me. I can’t explain it, but the need to leave and get home was stronger—much stronger. I stood and bid them farewell and made my way home.
Okay, the next bit is something that I would not advise anyone to do, on either end of the situation.
I was a block from my house and I saw this woman walking along the street. I could see she had something in her arms, but couldn’t quite make out what it was. She stepped into the road. I wasn’t going all that fast, but I still applied the breaks and swerved.
I glanced out the passenger’s side window. The woman was looking back at me. From there I could see the thing in her arms was a child. She started walking toward me and I let the car roll forward. I didn’t know this woman and I’ve heard of folks ending up dead because of events like this.
The woman—who by this point, I can see is wearing a dress and NOT wearing a coat and the child in her arms was small, maybe not even a year old and not wearing near enough to stay warm—waves at me to stop. I pulled to the side of the road, made sure my doors were locked and rolled the passenger’s side window down enough to hear what she had to say.
First she said thank you and then she went on to explain that her car broke down just up the road from where we were. Okay, at this point I am very leery of the situation. But, she had a child in her arms. I reached into my back pocket and pulled my knife out, opened it and placed it beneath my left leg. Hey, don’t judge me—I didn’t know where this was going and I certainly wasn’t going to be taken by surprise.
“Can you please do me a favor and give me a ride down to Simba’s?”
Oh crap, my mind said. Here was a dilemma. Do I say yes and risk something bad happening or do I say no and drive off leaving this woman and baby out in the cold with what was clearly not the type of clothing they needed to have on to stay warm? I’m not going to lie—I thought about saying no, that I didn’t trust her, and driving off. Instead, I looked around, down the street, toward the road and toward the houses, looking for anybody that could be lurking in the shadows, waiting to spring out and try to attack me.
With one hand at my left leg (you know, just in case), I unlocked the passenger’s door, leaving the others locked. I opened it and glanced around as she got in. She closed the door and I immediately locked the door. (Okay, I know, that could be looked at as a bad move, but just in case someone was there, yah know?)
She looked at me wide eyed.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m not some crazy psychopath. I always lock my doors.”
The woman was shivering and the little girl’s bottom lip trembled. I turned the heat on and drove a block forward, turned around in the parking lot of a furniture company. I got back on the road and drove the three plus blocks to Simba’s. The little convenience store was closed, so I faced the car toward the road nearest the payphone (yes, there are still payphones left in the world today).
For the record, it’s not a safe place to be for a young woman and a baby in the daytime, much less at night.
“Would you mind waiting with me?”
And the girl talked. Her name was Andrea and she was a single mother who worked at one of my favorite pizza places, Little Caesars. Her child was less than a year old, a little girl, who only three months earlier had brain surgery to remove a blood clot. She showed me the scar. Her car was broke down on the side of the road and when she got out to see the flat tire, she then started walking home. Upon arriving home, she realized she locked her keys in her car. She called a friend to come help her out, but since he didn’t know the area, she told him to meet her at Simba’s, the only place he knew and that was well lit.
Normally, there would be no way I would do any of this, but this was clearly not a case where someone was scoping out a possible hit. She told me a whole lot more about her life than she needed to and I could tell she had things tough.
We talked for about twenty minutes and then her friend showed up.
“There he is,” she said, added, “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. Before she got out of the car I spoke one more time. “Do me a favor. Be careful who you get in a car with. The world is a dangerous place.”
Sne nodded, gave me an understanding frown and got into the other car. I drove off, the need to get home still there, but the urgency long gone.
You see, the urge—or my gut—was telling me there was someone in need. I’d like to think it was God saying go help this young lady and her child. I’m not going to pretend that I am the perfect Christian man who goes out of my way to do great things for folks. Honestly, I’m just not that nice and I don’t trust people any further than I can throw them. However, there was a reason that I had that feeling, that urgent need to leave at halftime and go home. Call it what you will, but I believe I was supposed to be on that street to pick that woman up and keep her safe until her friend got there. I would hate to think what would have happened if I wouldn’t have followed that prompting.
Call it what you will, but that is what I believe. Sometimes there is a reason you get these feelings in your gut. I have learned over my lifetime that when I ignore mine, I regret it later on. I’m glad I won’t regret this one.
For now, I’m AJ and I’m out.