Oct 19 2011
I was going to a new friend’s house yesterday for a language exchange group I had been going to on Thursdays called English and Mate. It was pouring rain, so we weren’t meeting at our normal meeting point, Plaza de Intendencia. I had borrowed my roommate’s umbrella (as I hadn’t thought I would need one in Argentinian summer!), was testing out my new raincoat (that I bought for returning back home in winter), and using the boots that a friend had given me before she returned home. I was walking with my eyes glued to the ground, being very careful on the streets, because not only are the Cordoba streets usually hard to walk on even when dry, it was it raining and there are constantly tiles (most of the streets I found were not concrete, but had separate tiles that have broken on the streets, (which I later learned is because each property owns their sidewalk, so therefore, they are responsible for the upkeep) and areas where it looks like an earthquake damaged the sidewalk.
I was crossing the street from Obisbo Trejo onto Duarte Quiros and I saw an older woman in a t-shirt and pants with no jacket or umbrella, soaked, somewhat leaning against a building. As it was “rush hour” people were walking quickly, to and from classes, from work to home, etc. I stopped and asked her in Spanish if she was ok. She replied in a somewhat confused and weak voice “Oh yes, yes, I’m just going to the bus stop up the way.” I asked her exactly which bus stop she was going but all she really did was weakly point and started trying to walk again, but was swerving and I was worried she would fall into something or fall down. It looked as if each step took all her effort. So I linked my hand on her arm and told her “Here, we can share my umbrella.” She told me that when she left her house, she didn’t think it was going to rain, as it was really hot and humid earlier in the day, and it started raining suddenly. We slowly walked along the street in the direction of her bustop, her leaning on me for support, us both dodging people trying to get out of the rain. We finally got across the street from where the bus stop was, and there was a small stream in the gutter gushing down the street next to the sidewalk, so I told her to be very careful, pointed it out to her and we navigated over it together. I walked her to the bus-stop and I made sure that it was the right bus. She said to me “Thank you! You are such a good person! Thanks to God you were here! You are an angel! Thank you!” I told her it was nothing and to be sure and be careful and then left. I hope she arrived home alright.
Not that I belive that I am an insanely good person, but how many other people saw her and did nothing? I was glad that I in the right place at the right time to do so, as I don’t know if she would have fallen, gotten hurt, or gotten sick from being in the elements longer than she already was. How many of us walk right past people in need every day? We ignore the homeless, make up stories about “if this person would just work harder, they could have what I have,” yet many expect help from people when we need it.
I have been fortunate enough to recieve help from people when I have needed it, and I believe this world would be a greater place if we all believed in the power of paying it forward. Sometimes, these actions have brightened an otherwise gloomy day and made me feel good about humanity.
Be someone’s angel. Let them in when you are driving in traffic, breathe before saying something nasty and think of something nice to say instead, be patient with someone struggling with language barriers, ask someone if they need directions if they seem lost, offer someone some of whatever you are eating or drinking, donate items you don’t need anymore to those who could really use them, help someone without expecting for anything in return, ask people how they are and really listen to what they say, help someone struggling with something, give up your seat on the bus or train, say hello and offer a meal to a homeless person, let someone in line go in front of you, and remember, a smile and/or kind gesture goes a long way.