Over the last couple of weeks, I've had three encounters with complete strangers that linger on my mind. So much so that I feel a need to talk about them.
There was the new neighbor who knocked on my door at 1:30 in the morning and quietly apologized for bothering me. I replied that it was fine, and he then asked if I might have a cell phone charger he could use. He showed me his cell phone, which did in fact need to be charged.
I asked him to wait a moment while I looked for my charger, and remembering that I had a spare, when I found it I gave it to him. I told him he was welcome to keep it. He thanked me warmly and wished me a good rest of the night. I've since talked to him in passing, as well as his girlfriend. They're young, she's 17 and he's 19. They're lost souls who are trying to find their way in this world, and if I can make things just a little easier for them by being a good neighbor, I'm glad to be able to do so.
Two days later, I was approached by a woman in the supermarket, who very quietly asked if there was any way I could help her and her young son get home. I replied that there was not, as I do not own a car, nor did I have money to put them in a cab.
I felt really bad, especially because if she had seen me just ten minutes earlier, she and her son could have taken the last bus of the night. I would have given them the $3 needed without hesitation. When coming out of the supermarket, I saw them walking up the street. I have no idea what happened to them after that.
And two days after that, in the same aisle of the same supermarket, there was a man who, I'm guessing, must be in his late twenties or early thirties. Trailing him by a few feet was a little girl who looked to be two, maybe three years old. Her father asked her what kind of potato chips she thought they should get, and in her excitement to look at all the choices, she almost ran right into me.
Before her father could even begin to say anything, the child looked up at me and said very clearly, "I'm sorry". I smiled at her and said that it was fine, and she smiled back before going to her father's side.
I don't want to turn this into a post about politics. What I do want to do is ask a single question, and most definitely, that question is not a rhetorical one.
What kind of a nation are we now creating that the little girl and her father, and the lost but looking teenagers, and the mother and her son, will live in long after I'm gone?