*Thank you to Tim from Charlotte, North Carolina for sharing this amazing act of kindness!*
Good evening Chainlinks,
This story is catharsis for me, so please forgive the length. I will start my story by declaring that I am a 'tried and true' Conservative and still believe in a Conservative, yet compassionate government. I am a 42 year old, 6' 220 lb male, so I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself in a peculiar situation (and have done so in my younger days).
I am a different person these days. Prior to the event that I am about to share, I was simply worried about securing my job at the headquarters of a 'Big 3' bank in Charlotte, NC. I was a good person, yet I was more concerned about maintaining the big house at the end of the cul de sac in the upscale neighborhood of the best school district in the Charlotte Mecklenburg region. My taxes provided the social welfare for those who needed it, I had to 'take care of my own' beyond that. I was a very suspicious person of those whom I didn't know or who didn't come from the direct recommendation of a personal friend. In essence, I wasn't open to what the world had to offer, whether good or bad.
Life and the Universe seem to challenge us to provide our best in the worst of circumstances however. I was in the midst of a divorce in 2009 from a marriage that I thought was the 'one to span a lifetime', had just sold my house, was living in an apartment and was questioning literally EVERY move and decision I had made in my life to that point. Mind you, I didn't feel that I was a bad person, just that perhaps I could have done more. More in my marriage, work and life in general towards others that I loved, cared for and for strangers. I was questioning whether I had brought the despair of divorce and a life rift upon myself.
While searching for furniture on craigslist in Charlotte, in the 'for sale' section, I ran across an entirely random ad in the 'furniture for sale' that read something like this, "Family of four with underemployed parents needs help with food now, please email to help us with groceries". Well, at first my 'suspicious' self thought, "here's another scammer looking for some easy cash". As I looked through the listings, I kept, for some reason, going back to the ad with the family needing help. I decided to respond to the email asking for the circumstances and type of help needed. Within minutes, I had my reply. This was an educated young mother with two children who was unemployed. The father, a Veteran of Iraq, who was a blue collar worker, was working two jobs to keep a decent house in a good school district for the child in school. Unfortunately, in Charlotte, this meant that the family, who technically lived above the federal poverty level, could afford to keep an apartment, yet food and clothing were essentially above their means, with TWO jobs!
With the exchange of a few emails over the course of 45 minutes or so, the Mom had shared her story of concern for having food for the kids, while preserving Dad's sense of honor that he was providing for the household without any assistance, government or private. She told me that he was very proud with regard to that aspect of being a husband and father. With my 'scam' feelers still out, I notified a close friend of what I was about to do, and he reprimanded me for being 'soft skinned' and susceptible to craigslist scammers because of my situation and mindset with the divorce at that time. I acknowledged his concerns with a simple "I'll be at the Harris Teeter in Elizabeth, If I haven't called you by 5pm, that means something didn't go right".
With that communication being shared, and being the cautious person that I am, I proceeded to a Harris Teeter (the pervasive grocery store in the Charlotte area) and bought roughly $250 worth of groceries. I figured that I would simply drop off the groceries and reduce the chance of being robbed or kidnapped (that's how paranoid I was of the general public). I ensured that I bought organic, healthy food items from veggies and fruits, to organic fresh meat, as well as both canned and jarred items. I, being a kid once, also bought a few 'fun' things as well, such as cookies and ice cream, but that wasn't the majority of items. I made sure that the food I purchased was 'real' food as opposed to the typical processed fair.
I bought the food in South Charlotte and proceeded to drive toward Elizabeth. When I arrived at the Elizabeth Harris Teeter, the Mom was waiting as she had described in the part of the lot she mentioned with the vehicle that her family drove. Imagine my surprise to see a mom with a late model Saab station wagon as I pulled alongside her vehicle, waved and stopped. She waved and smiled back with the infant in her arms and began to walk alongside my Jeep (Green Gertie) as I eased into my parking spot. I was wary as she approached. As soon as I stepped out of my Jeep, she immediately hugged me with incredible strength and started sobbing! I didn't know what to do! I hugged her back and didn't know how strongly to hug this stranger. Was another person waiting to assault me? Why did she have a baby strapped to her chest as she hugged me? Was this a setup?
As we unclasped, with the baby strapped to her chest; alive and uncrushed, she looked me directly in the eye and said, "You are my family's angel". I simply sat back in my seat and began to cry myself. After about five minutes or so of us both crying, laughing, sobbing, attending to the confused baby and child still strapped in a seat in her car, laughing again at ourselves; I said that we needed to start getting the groceries to her car since a lot of perishable items could go 'bad'. We had a great two minute conversation as we transferred the items. She mentioned that she wondered how she could explain to her husband that the cupboard was full, how happy she was to know that the family would be able to eat in a healthy manner with the organic goods (that was important to her) and that she would be able to buy clothes for their child entering elementary school in the Fall.
Once we had completed the transfer, this proud Mom of two children and wife of a Gulf War Veteran who was working two jobs to make ends almost meet shared that she NEVER would have thought that she would ask for help from strangers, especially via the anonymous medium of Craigslist, given so many horror stories shared in the news of terrible occurrences through craigslist connections. She took a chance, listed in the wrong place and with (I believe) Divine Guidance, found the right person, on the right day, at the right time, that delivered what was necessary for her family to make it through the difficult time they were experiencing.
I believe that the Divine also provided for me that day, by showing that suspicion, holding back and an off-standing approach are not the ways to engage with our fellow humans. Don't misunderstand, good and evil do exist....yet, if we open our hearts, just a bit, we can find that just a little help when we are able is the difference that can help otherwise self sufficient folks to make the journey through a rough patch and come out of the storm ok. After all, we are all living in a community, whether a 1,500 person community that I was raised in Western North Carolina or the 4 million plus community that I now share in Chicago. May God bless all of us with the sense of community!
The person in the Green Jeep Wrangler (Green Gertie) in Charlotte, NC
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