Our late night Pizza Press run had turned into a rescue mission. You know how it is when the clock approaches ten and you realize all the restaurants are closing soon. A Sunday evening without late night junk food? Nope, never heard of it.
Hannie and I had gone to satisfy our craving for food-induced endorphins. After sitting on a bench right outside the pizza parlor, we decided to move our chat to her car. Right in front of us was a four way stop. Like any other night together, we were talking about life and just being our dorky selves. With her torso angled towards me in the driver’s seat, Hannie continued talking but I saw another story unraveling right behind her to the left side of the street.
There was a girl, no older than our twenty-one year old selves, walking with her arms crossed. She seemed to be on an intense mission that pumped her legs forward with mighty momentum – she was practically running. Thinking she must’ve been cold and trying to find her car, I tuned back into Hannie’s narrative.
A few moments later, leaving my ears with Hannie, I couldn’t help but notice a man running after the young woman I’d just seen. He too seemed to have quite the purpose coursing through his body.
Suddenly, he lunged at the girl, digging his claws into her left arm. She jerked around, yelled something at him, and took off again in a scurried stride. He lurched after her, grabbing her once more. Shucking her arm away, she turned right and disappeared behind a white van that was parked on the opposite side of the street from us – the man dissolving with her.
Now I had to interrupt my best friend. “Did you see that?!” I exclaimed with a tinge of worry and intrigue.
“No?” Hannie responded questioningly, angling her body to the front of the car to follow my gaze. There was nothing to see, for they were behind the van.
“There was a dude that just chased after a chick and it looked like they were fighting and now they’re behind the van!” The run on sentence marathoned out my mouth as my eyes grew wide. We switched into investigator mode.
With no forethought, Hannie threw her keys in the ignition. “Should we drive by?”
“Absolutely!” I reinforced.
Inching forward, we passed through the four way stop to find the turmoiled pair now off to the right side of the street. They had made their way across the road whilst Hannie brought her car to life.
At this point, we noticed him yelling at her, lunging for her again. This time she met him with a swift kick to the shins, turning with her left shoulder swinging at us and left heel rotating on the cement. The young woman’s right hand jolted out as she seemingly hailed us like a taxi. I rolled down the window.
“I will pay you any amount of money to please take me home!” She said, panicked yet stern.
Hannie didn’t even hesitate, “Of course! Jump in! No need to pay!”
She climbed in the back seat, “Drive!” she demanded. I turned to find the man’s jaw succumbing to gravity.
It turned out the man and her had been in a relationship for six months but she explained, “he always throws me around! I can’t do it anymore!” Hannie insisted she need not pay her, and drove her to the safety of her own home. It was a blessing we came across the young woman when we did, seeing as her phone was nearing the end of its life for the day.
My point in sharing this story is to stress the importance of tuning into our environments. It’s so easy to get lost in your own world that you forget the amalgam of worlds intersecting with yours each and every day. Who knows what would’ve happened had we not taken the time to show a little empathy for this stranger. Maybe she would’ve been okay, maybe not. Maybe he would’ve calmed down, maybe not. Maybe her phone would’ve lasted just long enough to Uber her home, maybe not.
What I can say for certain, is that we made her life a little easier Sunday night. It took fifteen minutes out of our night to completely change someone else’s. What would happen if we all showed a little more love and empathy? It may seem simpler to just take care of yourself, but wouldn’t it be much more pleasant and comforting to have strangers looking out for you too? Everyone’s fighting a battle, but what if we were one army tackling all battles? Yeah, this is utopia-sounding but stepping outside of the norm, extending a watchful eye, and lending a helping hand can truly go a long way in someone else’s world.
To hear more, listen to the podcast episode below!