I am always amazed at the kindness and generosity of those with the least. I am thinking of the many homeless individuals and families that I have met as I travel in America. From Los Angeles to San Francisco, to Chicago, Houston, San Diego, Salt Lake City, New York City, Las Vegas and more. I often find myself wondering over and spending time engaging in healthy conversation, and helping where possible. Each of these beautiful souls is homeless in most cases because of events that they could not control. In all my encounters with homeless individuals, most Americans; many were previously tax paying American’s; I have never heard one person say, “you know I like being homeless.” That leads me to an event that occurred in my life not long ago, but first the beginning that day.
I was fortunate and blessed to be invited by Mayor Goodman of Las Vegas to join a new board that she has formed named the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas Life.” One of the presentations was about how the city is helping many homeless in Las Vegas to find healthy and safe temporary transition space. I am hopeful that I can join that notably effort. Now for the remainder of my day…it was terrific.
When I arrived to grab my car in the Las Vegas city garage after the meeting, I found that the battery was dead, I mean zero power. During the middle of this situation, I remembered that my daughter was flying in from DC and I was to meet her and my wife for lunch. I attempted to call to tell them that my battery was dead but my phone locked and I could not dial but luckily Siri worked, and I was able to leave a message informing them that I would meet them at home. Once the service technician started my car, I drove toward home but realized that I wanted something light to eat, and I stopped at Subway for a sandwich. When I jumped back into my car to start it I suddenly realized that I should not have turned off the ignition, too late, I had no battery power; it was dead again.
Now I have no car and no phone, not even Siri. Luckily there was a Walmart not far away so I walk about a half block in 100-degree heat hopeful that they would allow me to use their phone. The customer service person quickly offered the use of their phone, but as I dialed, I was asked for a security code because the number I called was long distance. As such, I could not make the call from Walmart. As I walked away into the 100-degree heat I thought “is there such a thing as long distance calling in the US anymore?”
Back I go to my car now very frustrated I sit in my car trying to decide if I wanted to make the one-mile walk home or beg someone for the use of their phone, no Subway did not have a telephone for public use. Now I am sitting in my car with no air conditioning, and my windows are down, and an old white SUV pulled up next to me. The lady stuck her head out of her window and said: “is that one of those electric cars, it’s mighty quiet.” I responded, “no its called a dead car because the battery died.”
Suddenly I realize that I have phone service on my Apple watch. Now praying that it worked, I called the service department from the air conditioning of the Subway. It worked like a charm. While talking with the service department the lady that arrived in the old white SUV walked past me to the lady’s room, and as she came back through, I noticed that she did not purchase anything. I looked back out at her SUV, and there was stuff piled in the back, and a young man with tattoos over his arms. Now I was a bit concerned. As the lady was about to exit the Subway, she turned to me and said: “we can give you a jump.” Now my biases kicked in, and I said no thanks. The service tech overheard the conversation from my Apple watch and quickly said: “it’s easy to jump start the car, but we can send someone out if you prefer.” Finally, my rational social psychology education took over, and I realized that most likely I was misjudging the lady that had so generously offered me help. I walked out of the Subway and said:” on second thought I could use your help.” Buckle up because what happened next will bring you to tears.
The lady immediately jumped into action. She opens the back of her SUV, and she quickly found the cables among a bunch of items. Raising her voice ever so slightly she said: “come on junior we have to help this man.” Junior immediately started to position the SUV, but another car pulled into the space he needed to be closer to my car, and junior said to the driver very assertively “sir can you please move your car we are trying to help this gentleman.” The driver of the car said, “ok, ok, I hear you.”
Junior connected the cables, and said: “wait just a minute before you start your car, sir.” Shortly after that, my car started and he said, “you should leave it running for a while.” As my car was powering up the battery, I told them that I wanted to give them something for their help, but I needed to grab money from Walmart. I returned from Walmart and handed the lady $40.00 as she stood on the walk in from of Subway, and she started to cry profusely. She said, “sir I did not expect this” she went on to say, “homeless people can do some good too.” Continuing to cry she told me that they were homeless, but they had worked at a local casino, and several boys robbed them as they exited with their pay. Overhearing the conversation her son walked over with tears in his eyes to say thank you many times. As I backed out to leave, I found myself weeping saying “America we are much better than this.”
What a sweet ending to my day! Let’s all pray for the homeless among us and do something positive for our brothers and sisters when possible.
Yes, I am always amazed at the power of kindness.
Roy Whitmore, Ph.D.