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The Best Gesture Is Lending A Hand

There are moments in life when you need help. Maybe a little help at just the right time. Or a lot of help, over a long period of time. Regardless, family and friends aren’t always around to provide it.

So we’re left to rely on strangers, professionals or acquaintances, or to trudge through alone.

I remember how it feels when, unexpectedly, someone comes to the rescue who has no reason to. They just do. They step out of the churning mass of anonymous faces that pass us by, and lend a hand.

And, remembering a few of these kind souls, I’d like to say thanks:

To the new neighbor who, when I lost my own set of keys and couldn’t find the spare set, loaned me her car so I wouldn’t be late to an important meeting at work. I had gone to her door to ask for a ride. Instead, she handed me her keys. “Take the car and keep it as long as you need it. Drive it as if it was your own,” she said.

To the woman who, driving home from classes at the University of South Florida, saw our German shepherd in the median of the highway. Star was panicked from a thunderstorm, had jumped our fence, and was running blindly in and out of traffic. The woman stopped in the rain, put our large, wet, muddy dog in her back seat, drove her home, and gave her a bath. Then she tried every variation of the faded phone number on Star’s collar until she reached us.

To our pediatrician, who keeps Popsicles in his freezer. Even though my son had just thrown up on the carpet in his examination room, he apologized for our long wait, gave Adam a freeze pop and a sticker, and made sure to prescribe a medicine that “acts quick and tastes pretty good.”

To the older couple who, although their children must be grown, haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a parent traveling alone with a toddler. They approached me while my toddler son and I were waiting to board at a busy airport terminal, saying, “Excuse me, but you looked like you could use some help.” One took the stroller I was struggling to fold up; the other my suitcase, and I was free to carry Adam onto the plane and settle into our seat.

To the salesman at the computer store who made a house call, after we couldn’t get the printer to work with our new hard drive. He gave us his home and work numbers as we left the store, saying if we had any problems, to call. So we did - late on a Friday night. He drove 25 minutes to our house, worked out the kinks, and drove back in time to make the late shift at the restaurant where he also works part time.

To the couple walking by in Washington, D.C., who saw me dragging my suitcases up a side street in the rain, looking for the apartment I was staying in overnight. One took my bags while the other ran ahead to check if the apartment building was in the next block. Then they held their umbrella over my head until we got to the lobby.

All of these people went out of their way to make my life a little easier. I didn’t expect it. But what relief they provided. And how well they reminded me to go out of my way, every once in a while, for someone else.