Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Coincidence

Yesterday morning I needed to stop at the local credit union before driving to downtown Rochester to do some church bookkeeping work.

As I waited at a red light near the credit union, I looked to my left and saw a man slowly walking down the snowy roadside toward me, using a cane. He wore an overcoat, carried a briefcase, and hobbled uncertainly because one of his legs was covered with a large brace. I wondered where he was going at such a slow pace, but then the light changed and I went on my way.

After finishing my banking, I departed by another way and soon approached another nearby intersection. There, waiting for the light to change, was the same man. I pulled over, stopped my car, and shouted, "Do you need a ride?" He replied, "Where are you going?" I said, "Anywhere you want to go! Hop in!" He smiled, hobbled over to the passenger door, and strugged into the passenger seat with his stiff leg. I noticed that he appeared to be of Hispanic origin and that he was well dressed.

"I was going up to Monroe Avenue", he said as I started out again. "Where, exactly, are you headed?", I asked. He said he needed to catch a bus to downtown where he worked. I knew Monroe Avenue was almost one mile away. Quite a walk for a man with a cane on a windy, snowy morning! We chatted some more; he said his office was in the Times Union Building, which was directly on my route to the church. He was happy when I said I'd be delivering him to his office door.

We conversed during the twenty minute drive. He told me he was an attorney in general practice, mostly working with low income people who had legal problems. He said he often took payment in barter services, or took clients who could not pay him. He didn't have a car, which didn't matter since he couldn't drive because of his stiff leg. He laughed when he said he had recently re-injured a chronically bad knee when he made a poor decision to dance at a party. I marveled at his pleasant demeanor, his obvious high intellect, and his courage in attempting the challenging walk to the bus stop. He gave me his card as we approached Times Union Building, and he said, "Please let me know if I can ever do anything for you." I waved goodbye.

Why did I stop for him? Well, as I've walked the Appalachian Trail for many years, I've had to ask many favors of strangers. I've thumbed a lot of rides in and out of small towns, I've had a lady wash my hiking clothes, for free, after she explained there was no laundromat in her town, and I've also been able to help a few strangers that had needs no one else was going to address. I've become accustomed to dealing with obvious needs, whether or not I knew the person in need. I always seem to benefit from these experiences in some unexpected way.

As I look back on yesterday morning, it seems like quite a coincidence that I had a chance to observe this man and evaluate his plight some minutes before I was presented with the choice to either stop for him or go on my way. Was this just a regular coincidence, or was it a Christmas coincidence? I'm still pondering why his destination was exactly where I was planning to go, even though I intended to transport him wherever he needed to go. What do you think?

4 comments:

Thomas said...

I think you have a kind heart. :)

thimscool said...

Merry Christmas

Lifehiker said...

Thomas: You inspire me to be a better person.

Thimscool: Merry Christmas to you as well! Welcome back to my blog.

Dave K said...

Thanks for sharing this - it was good timing for me to it.... :)

My favorite bit is how you were both on your way to give generously of your time and energy - you to do bookkeeping at the church and he to assist low income people with legal problems.

In a way, you were both going the same direction already. :)