Flashback to when I was a darling four-year-old with a tragic haircut...
My family lived in a cute, white house on 9th avenue, next to Ursinus College. This was back in Pennsylvania. My dad walked to campus through "the woods," our large overgrown backyard with a bumpy path to school. One day, I walked to campus alone with a pencil and a sketchpad I received for my birthday. I wanted to sketch some of the sculptures on campus. Seems like a lofty goal for a little kid, right? Well, I was like an unearthly imp, and I probably thought that I was channeling the inner spirit of Michelangelo. Ursinus has weird sculptures. I mean weird (look them up.) I'm talking big-chested-metal-statues-with-triangles-for-heads weird.
|Hmm...I guess triangle head is pregnant, too.|
I marched to the Myrin library to sketch a statue of what looked like two mating noodles. I don't know — I guess the piece spoke to my soul. As I was sketching, a rather corpulent woman sat next to me and started a conversation. She was really nice. She invited me to her place for some cookies.
Now hold your horses before you immediately assume that my blessed parents neglected to teach me about stranger danger. I'm sure they did... but they never warned me about strangers with cookies.
Obviously, I mean... understandably, logically really... I was intrigued and readily agreed to follow this nice lady. So was it really a stupid moment for an unsuspecting child? To me... no. But to my parents, absolutely. To make a long story short, the campus policeman (Gary?) was watching and called my dad in a tizzy. I was rescued from this woman before she could sweep me away. Apparently, she was a very bad lady and even kicked out the back window of the police car when she was arrested. In trauma theory, some people try to bury disturbing memories deep into their subconscious. Well, all I remember is a nice, large lady and the promise of cookies, so I emerged from this experience unscarred.
Flash-forward to Friday, October 16, 2015... when I was a tragically beautiful 21-year-old.
Just kidding. After teaching on Friday, I stopped by Deseret Industries to make a donation. There is a little drive-through where some hefty men help with your donations. I left my car unlocked because I was only 2 feet away from the vehicle, and there were people working everywhere. When I got back in my car, there was a middle-aged woman. In my car. Sitting in the passenger seat. With a brown paper bag. I think my heart rate skyrocketed as I thought, "This is it. And God... please make note that my last action in life was donating to the needy."
This lady was wearing a Little Caesar's uniform, and she asked for a ride to work. The store was about a block away, but she looked tired, disheveled, and her words were slurred as if she had a disability. I was so hesitant, but Elder Holland's majestic face floated in my mind as I considered, "Aren't We ALL Beggars?" But then I thought... "Okay, Elder Holland. But what if your counsel gets me killed? What if we encounter beggars who magically appear in our car and carry suspicious brown paper bags?"
The smart thing to do would be to get out of my car and summon a DI worker. What did I do? I said I would give this woman a ride, and I started driving out of the lot. (Oh, when I told my sister this, she just about peed.) While I was in the car, the woman started shuffling with her brown bag, and I panicked. All driving rules were abandoned as I stared at her and the bag. What I thought would be a gun, or a knife, or steel wire, or a wrench, or a taser, or a hand grenade.... was just Vitamin Water and a granola bar. And then I felt guilty for my judgments and assumptions.
Just before I dropped this woman off, she asked me if I could explain to her boss why we were approximately 4 1/2 minutes late. She seemed scared, so I chatted with the manager and left.
So... was this another stupid moment in my life? Or can I think of this experience as confirmation that God will laminate my name in His Book of Remembrance? I'm not sure, but I need to be more careful — after all, I think I'm the only grad student with a shadow of a brain.