Faith + 2 miles = We’re Strangers No More

As I pulled out of the bank on Franklin and Hillhurst, a plump elderly woman in her 70s started pointing in the direction I was going and was saying something I couldn’t hear. So I open my door (if you’re wondering why I didn’t just roll down my window, read my Random Thought from this week), and she asks, “are you going in that direction? I need to get to Santa Monica to catch a bus.” It was hot today. Probably in the high 80s and she was also standing in the sun. I nodded and said yes and asked, “Santa Monica and what?” And she points with her finger and says, “this street…Hillhurst.”

So I said, “Sure…I’ll give you a ride! Come get in.” As I move my purse out of the passenger seat and watch her slowly waddle her way in front of the car to the passenger side, I suddenly get slightly nervous and think: what if she’s crazy and takes a knife out on me and tries to kill me? What if it’s a man dressed up as an old woman and carjacks me?

She gets in the car. Butt plops down first then her legs get in…just like my own grandmother. She closes the door and immediately says “thank you. I have to take several buses. and it’s so tiring for me to get on and off the buses. It’s a long way to Santa Monica.” She already sounds winded and I’m so glad I get to do this for her. She continues to share with me how she used to drive people to where they needed to go when she went to church. She asks what my name is and when I tell her, she responds, “Oh! That’s an easy name to remember! I like that name, Stella.” Her name is Betty. I ask her if she’s Russian–she’s got an accent I don’t quite seem to recognize. And she says she’s from Lebanon. And you know what?! Randomly, I happen to have studied about Lebanon in college! It was a group project for my Business Communications class and I fondly remember this beautiful country that sounded like paradise.

We’re now at the corner of Hillhurst and Santa Monica and she hopes she hasn’t already missed her bus. As I stop the car, she gives me a big hug, says thank you many times, and tells me she loves me. Before she closes the door, she says thank you again and says, “I Love You!” with a big smile. We make eye contact and at that very moment, we have a mutual love for one another. It was as if this small random occurrence between 2 strangers somehow restored faith, hope, and trust in humanity again. I can believe that there are nice people out there. That there is love in the world. You and I CAN make a difference in someone’s life…any time, any day, for anyone.

(…ok, I totally ended that story SO cheesily…but that was truly how I felt! Now who wants to come to the peace rally with me this Friday?)

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