Monday, February 21, 2011

The hitchhiker's guide to my neuroses (conclusion)

(Go here for parts one, two, three and four)

Later, a friend said, "if your life was a TV show then that guy definitely would've killed you and the audience would've been thrilled by a really gruesome quadruple homicide just before the opening credits.

"In real life, though, you're probably always more likely to get a guy bringing takeout to his wife on his way home from work."

The girls' questions continued as I drove us through the snow and stalled cars and watched the stranger's movements without being caught watching the stranger's movements and as I listened to the first sounds of G's stirrings, knowing he'd soon be awake and hungry. To calm myself I made conversation in search of answers.

"My girls want to know what language you're speaking."

"Oh, Chinese. I was calling my wife to tell her she can stop shoveling. I worry about her heart."

I had a moment of levity in my head, feeling grateful for the confirmation that E does not, in fact, know that language after all.

"And what's your name? They're asking..."

"Oh, Cui. Cui."

"Did you hear that, girls? His name is Cui."

We approached his intersection. I filled with calm, and knew my decision was a generous, and not reckless one. I knew he'd get home safely and we'd leave him safely, and eventually we'd get to our destination.

The object he had pulled out of his pocket -- he waved it in front of me. "Can I give you some money?"

"No, no," I said. "No. Tonight is just a good night for helping people. Go home to your wife." I watched the inching cars behind us, wary of stopping for too long. I didn't want a car behind us to lose control and crash into us after we'd come so far safely.

"Well, then can I know your name?"

"Robin," I said. "It's Robin."

"Well, thank you, Robin," he said as he looked at me steadily, even as he hesitated over my first consonant. He gathered his takeout and he left. With a wave he crossed the street through foot-high tire tracks, and I realized regretfully that I could have dropped him off so much closer. We kept driving, met the lovely husband for pizza and pasta in a restaurant running on a back-up generator, celebrated our E's birthday and carefully made our way home.

The next morning the sky, finally, was still. What could have been the worst decision of my life ended with a man who asked, in gratitude, to know my name. And because I knew his I was thinking of him, of Cui. And I wonder, but feel strangely sure, that he, too, was thinking of me.
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SmartBear said...

Ahhhh...what a great end to a great story.
I have to tell you though. I wish we could help each other out like that without being so frightened. It was a great thing you did. And a great moment for 2 people. Helping him and him receiving the help. That's a wonderful experience.

Mariposa said...

Great story! So glad you were able to help someone out in their time of need and were blessed in the process. :)

Nonnash said...

What a beautiful story, and a wonderful characterization of the kind of person you are. I am so proud to be your friend!

a li'l bit squishy said...

I love this series of posts. I love that the issue of fear is delicately approached. I refuse to live in fear and so maybe I take the odd risk but for the most part, I find myself in the position of having helped or having allowed someone else to help me. In the end my heart always swells just a little bit. Life is good but it can also be better and you are proof of that, my friend!