Earlier today I was driving home from a quick run to the grocery store when I spotted a neighbor of mine walking on the sidewalk, headed in the same direction. There was no place to pull over and traffic was heavy, so I didn’t have a way to ask her if she wanted a ride home.
I know she doesn’t have a car and I’ve seen her walking the other direction from our apartments from time to time, so I assumed on those occasions she likely made the mile-long trek to the store that’s located down that other road. I also know that store is much smaller and while it has all the basics, if there’s a specialty item you want, you have to go somewhere else.
It bothered me that I wasn’t able to stop and offer her a ride. She’s always been nice to me, and there was another three miles left to our respective homes, three miles with some steep hills along the way.
I should note that there’s no transit system in our area, so taking a bus was not an option for her.
I was troubled enough that I headed back out, knowing the next leg of her journey would be through a residential area and I could easily pull over onto a side street and flag her down as she walked by.
I did just that, and to my surprise she turned down my offer of a ride. Whether it was pride, a desire to get some exercise, fear of COVID or something else, I don’t know. I didn’t push it, however. She had offered me some help when I was moving in a few months ago, and when I declined her offer she smiled and said, “I know better than to ask again. If someone tells me no, I believe them.”
So why did this still bother me? I’d done what I could and it wasn’t as if it was a terribly hot or windy day. In fact, it was quite a pleasant day for a walk, and while I wouldn’t relish a six-mile (or more) round trip walk, perhaps she did.
I didn’t see her the rest of the day. I hope she got home safely.
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