Today I saw a young woman who reminded me of someone. The resemblance was striking and if I hadn’t been in such a hurry I might have even stopped her to ask if I knew her. 

I will never forget her face as long as I live.

I had gone to a church to run a video camera on the sewer system of the Priest’s residence.  They were having some trouble with a bathtub. I found the problem, someone had installed the bathtub incorrectly and had done a half-assed job of trying to cover it up.

The job would take a lot of effort to put right…we’d need to basically pull the bathtub and reset it correctly AFTER we had repaired the pipes under the tub itself.

The Priest said I would need to write an estimate so they could have the Parish Council look over it and either except it or deny it.

I went with him to the Church office to write it up.

I sat in a chair with my back to the office doorway. A woman, Secretary of sorts, sat at the desk. The priest stood next to her and they asked me questions and made “chit chat” while I wrote my estimate.

The door behind my opened. I didn’t turn to see who it was. I looked up and the Priest and the Secretary had made contact with someone. They weren’t saying anything so I turned my head slowly to look.

In the doorway, stood a young girl. I estimated her to be around 17 or 18 years old. Her eyes were wide and her face was flushed. She took a deep breath and in a shallow, hollow voice she spoke to the other two people.

“I…came to ask if someone can help me. My baby needs diapers and I don’t have any money to buy some.”

My heart fell out on the floor.  As she finished her sentence, her eyes started to well up and her lip started to quiver.

I looked back to my paper and began writing furiously…trying to finish and get out of her way. I listened for a reply but all I heard was the priest (I use that term loosely) say:

“We’ll be with you in a minute.”

What?  In a minute? What the fuck?

I began pressing even harder on my pen…trying desperately to get out of the way so they could help this girl.

Instead they turned their attention back to me…and in a surreal course of events began to finish up their conversation with me.  EVEN MAKE JOKES ABOUT HOW THE SEWER CAMERA SEEMED LIKE THE SAME CAMERA THEY USED TO DO COLONOSCOPY!!!

I mumbled a few answers…I could feel the heat rising on the back of my neck. I was getting angry. Then I heard another noise behind me.

The girl was quietly sobbing in the doorway.

Now my heart was not only on the floor but it was breaking with every single sniffle I could hear.

I stood up, tore off the estimate I finally finished writing and slapped it down on the desk. 

I thanked them for their consideration and I turned to leave.

I walked slowly passed the young girl, who was hiding her face from me. 

I wanted to reach out and take her by the hand and take her with me.  But I did what a stranger does who doesn’t want to make the situation worse…

I whispered, “Excuse me.” and moved out the door passed her.

I climbed into the service truck and started to turn my key.

But I couldn’t.

I just sat there.

I had to do something for her. But what? I took out my wallet. Opened it.  President Lincoln looked back at me. And no other dead presidents were hanging out with him.

5 bucks. That’s all I had.

I waited.

I thought about my family. I thought about If I would be brave enough to ask for help if I had to.

I waited.

45 minutes went by.

Suddenly the door opened and she walked out.

I opened my door and called to her. “Excuse me! miss!!”

Poor thing, I scared the crap out of her. She stumbled to a stop and stood there.

I walked up to her and she looked up at me with brown eyes surrounded by red, pulling some stray hair back with her hand.

I held out my hand with the pitiful looking 5 dollar bill hanging from it.

“I overheard inside. I’d like to help. I’m sorry this is all I have.”

She took the money and nodded. Her bottom lip was quivering out of control. In her other hand I saw a 10 dollar bill. Wasn’t sure if that’s all the Priest gave her or not. My blood boiled.

She tried to say thank you, but she mostly just mouthed the words.

We stood there looking at each other for what seemed like an hour but was probably on 30 seconds.

I couldn’t just say bye and walk off so I put my arms out and surprisingly she hugged me.

Don’t know why I was surprised…just figured I was a stranger so….anyway…

I whispered, “Good Luck to you, Ma’am.”

She nodded and turned and walked away. I watched her until she got to a white car and got in the passenger side. Don’t know what happened after that. I got in my truck and left.

Cursed myself for not doing more for her. But that always seems to be the case with me, I never feel like I can really do enough for people like that.

If left to my own devices I would probably bankrupt myself in the process. 

I’ve been researching a lot lately on what makes me act the way I do when other people are in need.

I’m still studying..but it seems to be a conclusion that I am a very empathic person.

The older I get, I find that I can’t even watch news footage of disasters like the hurricane or the bombing in Boston. Everything hurts when I do….

Apparently it’s not enough for me to sympathize with someone, I actually have to take on a bit of their problem…whatever it is.

I even traced it into my Astrological sign too…if you are one to subscribe to those:

“Compassionate, Intuitive, Empathic, Sacrificing…has difficulty saying no and avoiding disasters especially if he believes he can save someone else by “going down with the ship” “

Lovely…so apparently it’s hardwired in. Wonderful.

I didn’t stop to ask that girl if she was the same one from last year.  I chose to believe she wasn’t and that where ever she is…..she is happy.

Because lately I feel like there has to be a happy ending sometime. Not sure I could handle finding out there wasn’t for her.

About Eric

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