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?