It was a long weekend, beginning with a head cold and sore throat, and feeling like I’d rather crawl back in bed yesterday morning instead of driving to the Twin Cities for a wedding. But I wasn’t going to miss it ~ Jake is the youngest son of my best friend who died last year. She couldn’t be there, I would.
Yesterday was long, fun, emotional (I sobbed like a baby through most of the thankfully-short ceremony), and tiring. After hitting the water park this morning at the hotel with kids, I was ready to head home. Meaning about six stops in Brainerd at stores on my way through the town.
By late afternoon I couldn’t wait to get home and relax. I was sure I’d hit every red light today and every clerk at the stores seemed to move in slow motion. The final straw was my $10 off coupon of a $10 or more purchase. I was stopping at that store to get something “free” even if I had to crawl in on my hands and knees.
Of course, this store is known for their coupons being only good on nothing anyone really wants to buy. But I was determined I wasn’t leaving that store until I got $10 off of something-I-didn’t-need-anyway.
After way too much time spent in that store, I was done, my car pointed towards home. And not a moment too soon as I was very frustrated at how long everything had taken me today ~ I was going to arrive home about two hours later than I’d planned.
Practically peeling out of the mall parking lot, I passed a woman hunched over some makeshift walker on wheels, shuffling, stopping, shuffling some more. I drove right past, still ticked off at how long I’d wasted in the last store.
I drove about two blocks before I stopped. My barely-registered flash of that woman was suddenly haunting my brain. And my Catholic Guilt kicked in.
I turned my car around, not even knowing for sure what I could do for this woman. Give her a ride somewhere? Her makeshift cart had many things hanging from it, and with my full backseat, I had no clue where I’d put everything if I offered to give this elderly woman a ride.
Finding myself pulled up next to her, I’d kept my eye on her and how little progress she’d made since I carelessly drove past her minutes earlier.
When I stopped the car and rolled down my window, I was surprised to see the woman who turned to greet me. She was likely younger than me.
I asked where she was going. “Burger King.”
“How far away do you live?”
My mind digested this a moment. I’d watched her cover maybe 25 yards in five minutes and this woman was walking two blocks each way to go eat at Burger King?
Eyeing up her walker, I knew it wouldn’t fit in my car. How could I help this woman who was answering my nosy questions so easily, as if her crippled, hunched- over body was somehow my business?
“Are you okay? I see you keep stopping.”
“I get tired so I stop every few feet.”
What could I say to that?
I ended up handing her money, telling her I’d like to buy her a few meals.
Then I left. And thought about that woman for my forty-five minute drive home.
Why did I give her money? She hadn’t asked for it… was it guilt? Pity? She didn’t want my pity and certainly I had nothing to feel guilty about. But I did. On my drive home I thought about how impatient I was at the fact I was “running over schedule”, especially after a long weekend where I was feeling run down.
What a joke! That woman would never know the ease of stepping on the gas after waiting at a red light, to take off and fly down the freeway. My aches and pains from a cold would likely be a walk in the park for her compared to the aches and pains her body must feel. Every single day.
And her meal at Burger King was probably the highlight of her day, compared to me wrinkling my nose up at another fast-food meal.
The money I'd saved with my stupid coupons on unnecessary purchases, meant nothing to me.
And I’ll forget what I bought far sooner than I’ll forget her.