We are living in very trying times. Big brother is definitely watching, no matter where you are. There are no longer clear lines between the good guys and the bad guys. Every story is sensationalized, scrutinized, scrubbed, scratched and scarred. The average citizen may or may not feel compelled to do the right thing, turning the cheek is easier than getting involved in right or wrong.
I am one of those average citizens. I tried to do right, following the values I had been taught (and taught my children) over my lifetime. I am not sure I would do it again.
My two daughters and I went to a town about 45 minutes away from where we live. It is the closest town of any size to us. The population is roughly 35,000. My middle daughter needed to make some purchases to get ready for church camp and working at a Scout camp this summer.
The first thing we needed to do was to get gas in our auto. The girls decided they would walk over to the nearest post office box to drop some cards in while I gassed up. Before I’d even opened the gas cap on my vehicle, a lady in a car pulled in right behind me. I knew that I had a gas hog and it would take a little bit to fill my tank. I noticed that the pump on the other side of mine was empty so I just made hand signals to the driver to let her know it was available. She backed up and went around to that other pump. When she got out of her car, I explained why I suggested she move to an empty pump. She said something but I didn’t hear it.
Then, all of a sudden, I heard heart-wrenching crying and sobbing. I looked around and realized it was the same lady. I peeked between the structure and asked her if she was okay. Her son had just passed away that morning and she was absolutely distraught. So much so that she couldn’t get gas in her car. She couldn’t put her card in the pump. She just sobbed, wailed and attempted to function. Those attempts failed.
My heart went out to her. I asked her if she needed help. She told me more about her son and showed me a photo of him on her phone. I asked her if there was someone I could call to drive her wherever she needed to go. I suggested one of my daughters could drive her car while I followed, so she could go be with someone to grieve. She refused on all accounts – she only wanted to be alone. While I understood her desire, I disagreed with her with regard to driving alone. She was not safe to be on the road and I told her so. Others weren’t safe from her car, driving while totally emotionally strung out. She could not stop the tears, the running nose, the screams, the agony.
Just before she drove off, she looked toward me and asked me why I cared, I was just a stranger to her. I told her it was because she mattered. “YOU matter,” I repeated, before she got in her car and drove off.
I am probably the only woman left on the planet who does not own a cell phone…but, I don’t. We don’t get cell reception in our house and I go off property only a couple times a month so it’s pointless for me to pay for a cell phone and service when I need one once in a blue moon.
As my daughters returned to our Suburban, the only thought that ran through my mind was that that woman was a danger to herself and others. I quickly read and called out her license plate number and then repeated it and asked my daughters to write it down. I had to do the right thing, to show my daughters that I practiced what I preached, to make sure that no other lives were taken because that poor distraught lady was completely devastated.
The police station was only a couple of blocks away so I drove there. I expected to be able to just go in, give them the license number and explain the situation and leave. What I didn’t expect was that when I got there, the door was locked. Really? Whatever. I pushed an intercom button and a lady responded. I explained the situation and she took down the information. She told me to wait, someone would be with me shortly. Because of my MS, I have trouble standing for any length of time so I buzzed her again and said that I needed to sit down. I could see through the window and door that they had a bench just inside. She informed me that she was waiting for an officer to be available to talk to me but she did not have the means to let me in to sit down. I asked if I could go sit in my auto and she said yes, an officer would be with me soon. This is small town Texas. My Suburban was parked directly outside of the door to the police station. There were no other vehicles in the parking lot that had people in them.
I told the girls I would give them 15 minutes. If no one came to talk to me, we were leaving. Just before that 15 minutes was up, a police car drove right up beside the building’s door and the policeman went inside. An older lady was in the police station (beyond the locked door, sitting right on that bench that the dispatcher told me she couldn’t allow me to sit on – lie #1) and the policeman went in, buzzed for the door to be opened (aha, lie #2 – someone DID have the means to open the door). The policeman and lady were sitting there chewing the fat, occasionally laughing…just having a grand ole’ time. I was done. Our 15 minutes were up. I walked back through the first door and buzzed whomever was on the other side, told her I was leaving. The policeman then opened the door. He said he was sent to talk with me but couldn’t find me. Once again, really (lie #3)? I looked out the door to my auto and said, gee, I am parked directly across from this door and my auto is the only one with anyone in it – how hard did he really look for me? He changed his story, then it morphed into a, well, gee, I’m talking to this lady. Right. Having a mighty fine personal conversation while there is a report of a potentially dangerous person behind the wheel of her car, driving through the streets without the where-with-all to realize that she was being an unsafe driver. He then told me he’d talk to me when he was finished talking to the lady on the bench. I said, “No sir, you will not. I am leaving. I gave the talk-box all the information I had.”
As I walked to go out the one door that was unlocked, I turned and looked at him and said, “Just exactly WHO are you sworn to protect and serve? Based on this intercom and locked door, it’s certainly NOT the average citizen trying to do the right thing.”