Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reminders of the past

Someone on GitP wrote a brief tale about how touched he was at receiving human kindness. I have to agree that it's somewhat shocking when you run into someone who's willing to care because it's the right thing to do. More often than not, people simply turn their backs on those in need. Not only have I made my best effort not to do that anymore, but have also been blessed by those who've shared because they could.

His tale, however, reminded me of an event that occurred when I was 21. Since it's been ages since I've told a "Bor story," I figured I'd share one of the good ones.

I was a limousine driver at the time. The company I worked for offered three different kinds of vehicles: a sedan, a mini-stretch, and a stretch limo. My lengthiest assignment that particular day was to drive a woman and her foster child to a doctor's appointment in a sedan. The child was an absolutely adorable four-year-old girl.

I don't remember the exact destination, but it was at least a half hour there, the wait, and then the drive back. Because it was a doctor's apportionment, I couldn't be given another assignment. I had to wait for my clients to come out. Overall, I'd say the job took three hours, and that simply lets you know how much time I spent on this. The woman and the girl...? I interacted with them only when they were actually in the car. The reason I mention I was driving the sedan is to let you know the proximity to my clients. They weren't tucked away at the far end of the stretch. They were right there, behind me, within easy talking distance.

But did we talk? No. The little girl insisted on singing various songs from school. In fact, she insisted I sing with her. Don't ask me what we sang. I can only remember going through the alphabet about three times. We had fun, and keeping the little cutie smiling and laughing made me feel good...

...especially when I eventually learned why she was in foster care. She'd been sexually abused and her parents were drug addicts. Because of her age, she wasn't fully traumatized by what had happened to her...but traumatized just enough to require special care. Hence, the doctor's visit.

One of the most important things the little girl brought with her was a stuffed animal. The little critter never left her side. But when she started drifting off to sleep on the way home, it fell from her grasp and onto the floor. I dropped them off, took the car back to the office, and discovered the toy while checking over the car as my final task of the day.

My boss's attitude was that we'd return the toy eventually. No rush. But I'd spent some time with this girl, and I knew the toy's importance to her. (I believe I received quite the history of the toy's life, as told by a deeply interested little girl.) By sheer coincidence, I had to drive a prom the very next day, and my route to the new clients took me one exit past the girl's on the parkway. I offered to leave a half hour early so I could drop it off.

Back then, I didn't have many profound thoughts. I didn't contemplate the cruelty people inflicted on one another. As long as I had gas in my car and rock-n-roll on the radio, all was well with the universe. At best, I was somewhat hurt that this sweet kid had seen abuse so early in life. But I didn't dwell on it. And in my eyes at the time, I was just delivering a beloved toy to a little girl who probably missed it.

The foster mother was pleasantly surprised to see me standing in the door when she answered my knock. She told me the girl had been so pleased and excited by the trip the day before that she couldn't stop talking about it the night before.

All this time, I had my hands behind my back, and when she was done talking, I asked, "Did she lose something yesterday?" I revealed I had the stuffed animal with me, and the foster mom said she'd been wondering where it had vanished to. "It was left in the car. Since I have a prom to drive one exit further up the parkway, I decided to swing by and drop it off."

I was prepared to leave the toy and be on my way, but the foster mother insisted I return it. She called to the little girl, saying, "Look who's here."

Up until that point, I knew the kid had had a good time. I knew she'd been excited to have a nice, long ride in the car to the doctor. I knew she enjoyed singing her elementary school songs with me. But it had never clicked as to exactly how much she enjoyed these things. She came around a corner, saw me, and her face lit up in a huge smile. The word didn't exist back them, but I was effectively "glomped" by this child, who took a running start at me and latched on to me in as powerful a hug as she could muster. And she was all smiles when I returned her stuffed animal.

I tried to share this tale with a few people back then, but I didn't know anyone who was in touch with humanity as much as I am now. Heck, I wasn't all that in touch back then, either. Now, however, good deeds are as valuable, if not moreso, than gold. Sharing it in this forum probably has greater impact than all the people I tried to convey the story to all those years ago.

I can only hope that that little girl found her place in the system. That foster care wasn't as cruel as it can be now and again. I pray she found a responsible family that loved her and nurtured the very best in her. And I hope, should she even remember it, that memories of the limo driver who returned her beloved toy makes her realize that there are people in the world who do good deeds for the sake of doing them.

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