It happened both quickly and unexpectedly! A few minutes ago while returning from my daily workout, I was driving north on Rt 60, about a mile and a half from home. I saw a fellow walking the same direction I was going, but on the other side of the road, facing traffic. He seemed to have a little limp, was carrying a bag, which I interpreted to mean he had been doing some shopping at the mall about two miles back.
It occurred to me to stop and ask him if I could give him a ride home. So, I passed him, turned around and drove back to where he was walking, opened the window on the passenger’s side, and asked if I could take him somewhere. He pointed to his right ear, opened his mouth as if to say something, but no sound came out. Apparently, he was deaf and mute.
Now, what do I do? I still wanted to help, but it seemed to be of no avail. He begins to walk again. I turned the car around, pull up to him, and again tried to offer him a ride. I ask if I could write a note, stupidly not realizing that he couldn’t understand any of my question, nor the meaning of my gestures. Then all of a sudden, he began running the same direction he had been walking.
Figuring that my effort of being a good neighbor wasn’t going to work, I continued my drive toward home. Passing him as he ran, I looked at his fact and saw fear in his eyes. The redness in his face indicated that he was already getting winded. That is when it hit me hard. What I thought could be a good gesture was just the opposite for him. He was in flight from danger. He must have taken my gesture as the first phase of an attempt to kidnap him!! I tried to imagine the sensations he was experiencing as he confronted a life-death situation.
As I write this, I still picture the look on his face. I never got to know him. He never got to know me. Rather, I became another person in his “to be feared” category.
And, he became another person whom I have failed, in spite of my good intentions. What a sick feeling I have in my belly, as I imagine the fear I had caused. It takes more than good intentions to do good.