2013 19/02

She was cold and I was mad.

I had just picked Abbi up from school and was waiting to exit the parking lot. It’s a busy road and can take a bit to actually get out of there. This particular day was chilly, maybe upper 30s, slightly windy but not snowing. Just a typical Winter day.

Then I saw her. Walking on the sidewalk that runs in front of the school, crossing over the entrance and exit of the parking lot. She was maybe in her early teens. Probably a Middle Schooler on her way home.

I don’t see many kids walking past the school, even though school was just let out, because most kids ride the bus or, if they do walk, they are usually past by now since the Middle School gets let out earlier than the Elementary. But that is not why she caught my attention. She caught my attention because she was dressed in only a black t-shirt and black pants. No coat. No sweatshirt. Maybe 37 degrees and she was walking around in a t-shirt.

I instantly found myself mad.

What is she thinking? It’s freezing out! What, is wearing a coat not cool these days? Ugh, I’d be so mad if I saw one of my kids walking around without a coat on in the Winter! 

Then my anger turned.

What if she didn’t have a coat? How could her parents let her go to school without a coat? Stupid parents! 

It was my turn to exit the parking lot and the girl had now made her way past the school. She continued down the sidewalk and I headed the opposite way. I listened to the girls buzz excitedly about what they did at school and how silly so-and-so was at recess. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl.

As I reached over to turn down the temperature on the heater, my anger turned, again.

What am I doing? I just watched as this girl, obviously not dressed properly for the weather, make her way down a snowy sidewalk. To where? To who? I should go back. But to do what? 

I had our car so I had no empty seats to offer her a ride home. Miles down the road now, I wanted to kick myself. I should have given her my jacket. I should have turned my car around and insisted she take my jacket. Something. Anything. But I didn’t. I drove home and continued on with my night.

But I still can’t shake the image of that girl from my head. And while I can’t turn back time and do things differently, I’m telling myself that I will do things differently next time. I’ll turn my car around and insist she take my jacket. Or something. Anything.

Have you ever had a situation like this? What did you or didn’t you do? Do you wish you had done things differently?

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5 Comments

  • Stacey,
    I had a similar experience while I was in Peru during college. While sitting comfortably in a cafe, I saw an old woman shuffle past without shoes in the middle of downtown. I knew I had and extra pair somewhere in my luggage, but still, for some selfish reason, I clung to the Payless loafers on my feet.

    I have *so often* thought about that day and kicked myself for not sharing with her. I wonder if she was one of those “angels unaware” and I missed the opportunity to show hospitality and love.

    Now I try to carry a couple of gift cards in my purse so I can help even if I don’t have something to give. I’d like to think that learning from my failings is a small honor to God, even when I’ve so obviously blew it.

    Thanks for this great reminder post!

  • It’s so hard…especially when you have your kids in the car. That makes me make different choices every time. Don’t beat yourself up, you have no idea her story…or her intentions for that matter. You can’t turn back time. You are an amazing woman for even wanting to. Whenever I see someone in a situation like this, I think about them for eternity it seems like. What could I have done for them??? Or even animals. I turn around and stop for animals often. I’m just always concerned with humans, unfortunately. You never know who has knives or guns these days….which is SO sad :(

  • That’s a really great idea, Jane! I like the idea of keeping some gift cards for situations like that! I do hope that this experience stays fresh in my mind and heart so I can do it differently next time.

  • I know what you mean, Shannon. I do hesitate when I have the kids with me. And you are right, we do need to be careful and not let our desire to “help” cloud our judgement of whether the situation is safe.

  • There’s also the possibility that she’s too “cool” for a coat. I know my friends and I froze our butts off WAY more than needed as middle schoolers because big winter jackets were not COOL. I probably looked miserable, but at least I was “in” fashion.

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