As I listened to the words come out of the lady’s mouth I had to grin on the inside to stop myself from telling the old woman to get to her destination without me.
Wait – allow me to go back to the beginning.
I am in my truck with my sister driving Southbound on Michigan Avenue at 49th St. and there is an elderly lady crossing the street. I should actually state she was attempting to cross the street because she was literally moving at a snail’s pace and was almost hit twice. She had mobility issues as she was utilizing a cane in her right hand and carrying a bag in her left. Looking at the almost accidents I was compelled to stop and help her across the street. My other sister was trailing behind us in her SUV with my niece and since Michigan Ave. is a one-way street at that stretch of land I essentially stopped all traffic.
I hopped out of the car, rushed to the middle of the street, and asked the elderly woman if I could offer her some assistance. Now this is the place where you are to be crystal clear about your intentions. In my head, I was asking if I could assist her across the street and out of harm’s way. She interpreted the question and responded by stating yes I could give her a ride to her destination. Well I have to take that one on the chin because I wasn’t clear around my intention. So now I am attempting to escort the woman across the street and to my car. I take the heavy bag she has and place it in the trunk and I go back to begin to help her and she screams – don’t touch me… don’t touch my hand. I had to quickly center myself because my sister girl attitude was ready to kick in – how dare you, but alas I regained my composure and replied yes ma’am.
She’s now situated in the back seat of the car, I introduce her to my sister and her next request was for me to drop her off at 75th and Cottage Grove. I politely told her I wasn’t traveling that far South and told her I could take her as far as 55th Cottage Grove and she stated ok. It was Lisa’s birthday weekend and Lori and I were running her around doing all the pre-birthday errands. I got to 55th and Michigan and told Lisa to run into the store, but hop back in the car with Lori and I would meet them at the next location after I dropped the lady off at 75th Cottage Grove. I knew if I didn’t take her to her requested destination I would feel bad.
Lisa jumped off and I pulled off and the lady asked if I could take her to 75th and Ashland. Now Ashland is West of where we were and completely in the opposite direction of where I ultimately needed to go. I politely told her I would not, but I was going to take her to 75th in Cottage Grove instead of 55th and she was grateful.
Less than 30 seconds later she noticed I had an umbrella in the car. She stated “can I have the umbrella, it looks like it might rain.” I replied, “yes ma’am you can have the umbrella.” Then she stated take me to 59th and King Drive. I can get out there because I need to go West. I stated no problem and adjusted my course. Then she stated “may I have that water?” I replied “ma’am it’s already open” she replied “that’s ok I’ll take it.” I replied “here you go ma’am.”
As we pulled to 59th King Drive she stated she needed a bus terminal which had a bench so she could sit “take me to 63rd King Drive.” I replied yes ma’am and began to proceed down King Drive when she told me to make a right turn on 60th Street and drop her off at the bus stop. I reminded her she wanted a bench and this one did not have one and she stated it was fine to drop her off anyway. I complied and met up with my sisters and niece. As I pulled off she waved vigorously, smiled, and told the young lady standing next to her that I gave her a ride to her next destination.
Why do I tell this story? Because I choose to believe that I made an impact on the elderly woman’s moment. I really need you to hear me – I didn’t say life, year, or even day – it was in the moment that I made an impact and it is the only thing I can claim, but it is such a wonderful feeling.
Often times we are faced with millions of choices to make an impact, but we don’t because we are waiting for the huge moments of impact. When I have $1,000 of extra money I will sponsor a child in Liberia. I will volunteer next year at the women’s shelter during the Thanksgiving Holiday. I’ll start the non-profit organization when I find a grant to fund it. We are so busy planning and waiting to make the large contributions that we miss the opportunities presented in front of us on a daily and consistent basis to be impactful.
When I stopped the car I anticipated helping an elderly woman across the street. What I received was an opportunity to save her a few extra steps on her journey, provide a small shelter from the rain, and an opportunity to quench her thirst. What else was magical and even more special was when my niece asked why I stopped and I was able to engage her in the dialogue of giving. Not out of obligation or expecting something in return – simple because you can and you make the choice, in the moment, to do so.
What’s the point of it all? Don’t bypass the chance to make an impact; however small it may appear to be. To the universe the size of the impact doesn’t count – the fact that it was made does.
Take a few moments and share your moments of impact. I’m sure someone besides me will be grateful you did.