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Sol Solomon: The beauty of chance encounters

For the Monitor
Published: 11/13/2018 12:14:59 AM

I was about to get in my car after leaving Aldi on Wednesday when I noticed a woman trudging through the parking lot. Even though it was a warm day, the woman appeared to be laboring, limping a bit as if one of her legs wasn’t working properly. She was of indeterminate age, apparently of African descent, wearing multiple robes over a long, colorful dress.

I called out, “Can I give you a ride?” She looked at me and without hesitation said, “Yes, please.” As she shuffled over to my car, I felt compelled to hold the door open for her.

The woman’s English wasn’t very good. When I asked her where she was going, she pointed to the adjoining parking lot and another set of stores. As we made our way, she thanked me continuously, with many hand gestures. The ride took all of one minute. I stopped to let her out, we made eye contact again, and she thanked me once more. The woman walked around the corner of a building and out of sight.

The woman’s overwhelming gratitude touched me. After she departed, I sat in my car for a moment to clear the tears that welled up. I realized what an act of trust it was for her to accept a ride from a Caucasian stranger. And what a positive emotional experience this brief encounter was for each of us.

I had not intended to visit Aldi that day. I left the store a bit grumpy because of the long wait at check out. But, if the wait hadn’t been as long, I would not have met the woman in the parking lot. I wondered about the series of events that brought us together that day, and whether encounters like this are really chance events after all. It occurred to me that meeting this stranger may have been the real reason I came to Concord, not my two other appointments.

The older I get the more I appreciate these unplanned opportunities to spread a little kindness, not only with those I already know, but other members of the human family. I believe we are all connected in important and mysterious ways. We just need to keep our eyes open for others walking by.

(Sol Solomon lives in Sutton.)

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