In Santa Rosa, California, there were a series of unsolved murders a long time ago. It was back in 1972, and 1973. After that, so many people were afraid to hitchhike. The incidents affected the entire country, and it became a thing of the past. It was as if no one could be trusted anymore.
We often hear about young women getting raped and murdered and it’s enough to ruin hope of the common kindness that people once provided to each other. It is this kindness that gets us through the hard times. It’s simple and easy. We don’t expect anything in return, and we just know that sometimes…we’re in a position to help.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you should take rides from strangers. It’s better to go with someone that you’ve known for years – someone that everyone knows in your community. Nowadays, there are websites for people interested in carpools, and social networks to leave clues about people’s whereabouts. Sure we’d like to trust people, but it’s more important to remain alive and healthy.
I gave a ride to a woman a few weeks ago. This deed must’ve been about twenty days ago. My wife, Yi, and I were in the car and it was really hot outside. It was a Hispanic woman in her early forties named Estrete (I’m not sure about the spelling of her name). She approached the car smiling. At first, she stuttered a little. She said, “Excuse me, are you going to Bergenline Ave? I don’t usually ask for rides, but I have a really good parking spot and I don’t want to lose it.”
I knew exactly how frustrating that can be especially because all the residents of North Bergen pay to park here and we don’t always get to do this. One example is the lack of snow removal during the winter of 2013. I looked into the distance for a slight moment to consider. Within this millisecond, my mind diverged, and I thought, “This woman is smart to approach a couple. For some reason people feel safer asking a couple for things that require trust like this. This is a chance to do a good deed, and simply put, I feel good about myself when I do a good deed.” I also considered that I might want to see if my wife minded, but I figured that it shouldn’t matter to her because we were going in that direction anyway. So, with sympathy and without question I smiled and said, “Sure, come in.”
The woman opened the door on the passenger side of my blue Honda CRV and then she came inside. Being polite, I introduced myself and my wife to her saying, “My name is Tim and this is my wife, Yi.” My wife was sitting in front of her when she turned to smile and say hi to the woman. I asked her where she was from and she said that she was from Colombia and that she had been living in the United States during the past three months. I told her that we’ve only been living in North Bergen about 2 years. Eventually, we arrived and then we dropped her off. I was impressed by her ability to speak English. Then she thanked me and I felt proud about it. That’s all there was to it. I wish life could always remain this simple and decent.