The Pretty Good Samaritan
Well, no, I told her, and then patiently explained how she was going to have to leave the parking garage, kiss $3.50 goodbye, and drive back through to the Pick-Up Only level. It's confusing, there are no signs, welcome to Boston, no one gives a damn if you get lost or if you drive the wrong way down a one-way bus lane (and risk both death and a $50 fine -- whichever comes first) or have to pull a treacherous U-turn to get where you're going. We Just Don't. Care.
The woman, a cute chubby middle aged lady, looked like she might gently and mildly have a nervous breakdown. It had just occurred to her that her family might be at ANOTHER T-station waiting for her. She quizzed me on those: were they nearby? Did I think her husband, who was from out of town, might be confused? I told her that both stations would be very hard to find in the dark and the pouring rain, and that her hubby might well be confused but if she had a cell phone she should call him and have him come to this station. I told her that she would have well nigh impossible task finding the other two stations.
She told me that her cell phone had just died. But otherwise she thought it was a jim dandy of an idea.
Oh, heavens. To make a long story short, I wound up phoning her husband with my own cell phone, leading her out of the parking garage (paying her $3.50 fee because I'm a nice gal) and around and around until we found the right entrance to the Passenger Pick-Up only level (this involved getting a bit lost and me rushing out in the pouring rain at a stop light to tell her I was sorry, just follow me!), and I hope, reuniting her with her husband and kids soon thereafter.
(Don't think I just went and abandoned her or anything: she made me go home as soon as we established that her brood was on their way down the stairs from the train)
She was in town for her mother's funeral.
Now, here's what went through my mind when she drove up to me and unrolled her window.
Women: "Excuse me, can I ask you something?"
PeaceBang Interior Monologue:
"Let's see. I'm all alone late at night at the T station garage. This woman pulls up in a huge SUV. There might be some guy in the back seat ready to abduct me and harvest my organs, or molest and torture me and then kill me. She could be his cute, harmless-looking accomplice. Maybe she got into terrible, crippling debt shopping for all that jewelry on QVC and she promised him that if he paid her credit card bills she would help him capture one juicy looking woman for his sadistic desires.
This could be true, and I could be in real trouble.
On the other hand, it's probably not true, and even if it is, I do have good healthy organs and someone might be able to benefit from them. And people get tortured and killed all the time, and God receives their souls in the end and the torment doesn't last forever.
And who do I want to be, anyway? Someone who helps or someone who is too afraid to help? How would I feel if this was me? I HATE being lost. I ALWAYS wish there was someone kind around to rescue me when I get lost. Now I can be that someone for this lady. I think I'll help."
As I finally drove away and thought to myself, "Well PeaceBang, you're not always such a bad kid," I remembered in a flood a sea of faces of people I've helped in just this way over the years. The old woman I met in college when she fell on the sidewalk and I helped her to a bench and talked with her until she was less shaky. The kids I stayed with at the side of the road until help came following an accident. The pregnant woman I stayed with on the side of the highway until her husband came along to fix the flat tire (I can't fix a flat) and to drive her home. The woman who hit the deer on the street in front of my house and who was clearly in shock, who I steered gently into my house and let her stay there for hours while I called the tow truck and filled out the police reports, and then drove her to her job and explained everything.
The necklace I took off my neck and gave to the young Navy recruit who so admired it, and for whom the symbol had greater meaning than it ever had to me. None of these people friends, none of these people parishioners.
The next time I fear asking for help, I hope I remember how much joy and deep feeling of love and connectedness I have had with strangers who have allowed me to help them in some way. It's a wonderful feeling. I should remember that the next time I'm accusing myself of being a miserable sinner or snarky beeyotch.