It’s December 23rd and I’m driving to the grocery store to pick up a few things. My kiddos need food for the next day and I have a couple last minute gifts to buy. Christmas music is playing through an app on my phone.
December in Michigan is usually snowy. This December has been the usual mixture of slush, then warmer weather, then freezing temps so it becomes ice, then more snow creating a lovely sandwich of death just waiting for you to venture out.
I’ve come over a hill and there’s a car in the median on the opposite side of the road. The light is on and it looks like he’s just spun out in the last couple minutes. I make the decision to turn around because while it’s not icy out now it’s supposed to get bad tonight.
I pull to the side of the road and push the button for my hazard lights then crunch through the snow (sorry new boots) to check on the person inside. The car is stopped over a road sign. This guy isn’t having a good day.
He’s older than me. I’m a terrible judge of age but I’d say he’s closer to my mother’s age than mine. I ask if he’s okay. He rolls down the window and says yeah. I don’t see any injuries and ask if he’s got a phone to call someone. He’s disoriented. He has a phone.
He steps out of the car and I catch a whiff of alcohol. Yikes. I offer him a ride because no way am I letting him get back behind that wheel. My original plan was to help him call for a tow or try to push him out of the ditch but that car’s stuck tight.
A truck pulls up behind us and offers a pull out. I say thank you thinking I could probably drop the car on the side road just across the way then drive this dude home. After a few minutes of this second stranger digging snow out from the front of the car and hearing his unseen kids giggling in the cab he tells us the snow is too deep to get his tow rope around and recommends calling for a tow. I thank him and tell the first guy (I’ll call him K) I’ll give him a ride.
I ask K where he was headed and he says Grand Haven. I balk. That’s probably a good 35-40 minute drive one way what with the storm coming. “You live in Grand Haven?” I ask.
“No I live in Grand Rapids.”
(Sigh of relief.) “Okay. Give me your address and I’ll get you home so you can sleep and deal with this tomorrow,” I gesture to the car.
K gives me the address and it’s a max of 15 minutes away. He’s slightly wobbly as he walls to my car. I turn us back the way I was originally headed and it starts to snow.
Over the next 15 minutes he tells me he’s been going through some stuff, things have been bad and it’s a sign from Gd that I stopped to help him. I’m sympathetic.
Yes, I don’t know this man whatsoever and it does go through my mind a few times that I may be giving a ride to an axe murderer. Nevertheless, I see someone who needs help and I want to do what I can.
I’ve got my guard up but K is having a rough time. I tell him I’ll get him home, not to worry at this moment, and to sort it in the morning. My mother’s voice is yelling in my head about putting myself in dangerous situations. K starts telling me about growing up in the church, getting away from it, but trying to get back into it lately.
15 minutes isn’t very long. I think it’s enough to be able to tell when someone is hurting and just needs another person to listen.
When I drop K at his home he gives me his number, profusely thanks me, offers to take me to a lavish dinner. I decline. I’m honestly just trying to help someone. Before he leaves my car I give him the name of my church, time of service and address.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. My anxiety is on high alert from talking to a stranger but I hope he finds his answers.
I drive to the grocery.