Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Offering More Love, Less Fear

--by DoNothing, posted Feb 16, 2010

I'm sort of new to this small acts of kindness game, so I'm not sure how people feel about picking up hitchhikers. I've always felt that as long as you don't put your self in a completely unsafe position, it is an OK thing to do. But I'd never done it before until this week.

It was about 9pm and I was walking in my school's campus from my office to my car. On the way, I ran into an fellow who was obviously lost. He asked me for directions, saying he needed to get to East Palo Alto. But the problem was he was walking in the complete opposite direction!

I pointed him in the correct direction, but warned him it was a long ways off. He didn't speak English very well, and generally seemed disoriented. I quickly felt like helping him. Though he was a big guy, the vibe I got from him was that he was harmless.

I sent him on his way, and I walked away towards my car. Just as he was going out of earshot, something in me clicked, and I called out to him, "Do you know what street you need to get to?" He replied with some names I hadn't heard of, but I thought that I could at least give him a ride into East Palo Alto. It was late and getting cold, and I felt sorry for him for having to walk all that way.

I offered him a ride. He gratefully accepted, and sensing that this may be uncomfortable to me, he offered to show me his ID. I declined, but held out my hand and introduced myself. He said his name was Mario.

Mario followed me to my car, literally, walking behind me all the way. When I unlocked the passenger door for him, he didn't get in until I assured him it was fine. As we sat in the car together, I suddenly got nervous. "If this guy wanted, he could hurt me and take my car", I thought. I contemplated calling my brother as a safety precaution, but then I felt determined to not feel scared. After all, this is what humans do; they help each other out.

Mario and I got into some conversation. He told me about his family in Mexico, how he works but doesn't ever earn enough, how he used to live near Fresno and work on the farms but now earns more in the Bay Area. It was good talking to him, though I couldn't shake the nervousness completely. I kept asking him questions that would give me clues as to whether he was being truthful.

When we got into East Palo Alto, I pulled into a gas station and told him it was as far as I could take him. He quickly got out and thanked me several times, saying he could find his way home from there.

Thinking back on it, I am glad I was able to empathize with Mario and give him a ride. Although it was risky, I think such things should be done without fear, or not at all. I wouldn't say I'd ever pick up a hitchhiker again, but I know that if I did, I would make sure I could offer more love and less fear.

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Readers Comments

Woodrose wrote: Thank you for putting a smile on my face :)
You are wonderful!
rrgirl63 wrote: Bravo! A very selfless and brave thing to do. I am so glad that it turned out like it did. Good for you!
kate wrote: I have picked up people from time to time over the years - some months ago i saw a man walking along the freeway from the car that was disabled some distance back and i really, really wanted to pick him up - but i chose not to, because i felt it was not prudent to do so. I do, however, pick up women, especially women with children, or elderly people. One time i picked up an elderly black woman and on the short distance to her house, my own car broke down. She stayed in the car with me, because she said it wasn't safe for me, being white, to be alone in her neighborhood. She waited until the tow truck came for the car, and my daughter came for me, and my daughter took her home. On the flip side, i have been picked up by people when i've had car trouble, always thinking vaguely that this could be unwise - instead i have encountered generous people who helped me, and not one would ever take any money for their trouble. People that looked scary enough that i would have avoided them if i could, have come to my car and offered to fix my flat tire, or jump the battery. It's very humbling for me to have thought badly of them and then to have them offer a kindness. It's hard to know where to draw the line between kindness and reasonable caution. I still think of that man on the freeway and regret that i didn't feel i could give him a lift.
ananta wrote: Technically, this guy was not actually hitchhiking. Which gives the cardriver a little more freedom about choosing whether to offer a lift or not. It definitely seems like it was the right thing to do.
George wrote: I am so glad that it turned out like it did. Good for you!
theunicornlady wrote: I have picked up hitchhikers a time or two. There is fear both ways - - fear from the person being picked up that they will be preached at or worse. Fear from the driver about harm or being asked for more than they are willing to give.

Courage is doing the right thing in spite of fear.
worldcitizen wrote: :)

Love over fear. You are already another example of a citizen of the world!

Thanks for being the change!
banti wrote: You did a nice job. You made the life a little bit beautiful for that person.

God bless you.
shelly wrote: I have picked up a few people over the years, always in the day light. When i get that feeling i need to help out, i say a prayer before i pick someone up asking for protection, as i feel i am on god's errand. I am glad you followed your intuition, i only pick up people when i really really have that feeling too. Thanks for sharing your story. You never know, mario could have been an angel that you were just there to help. God bless you for your kindness!
mandino wrote: I am from east europe. Here in my country we do very often due to the poor public service busses and lack ofm money.

When i was a student myself, i came home by hitch-hiking every weekend.

Now long after my studies, i do pick up hitch-hikers, they mostly are students or some old people who live in some remote areas where the public bus may go only once a week.

My husband never picks up hitch-hikers and he can't understand why i do it.

But i may very well understand the people who have no choice and are standing on the road for help.

I also remember one time i was in the palo alto area and a stranger helped me to get to another town ( a name i don't remember, i think it was san francisco), we both met at a train station, both missed the train, and then he went into a town with his car.

I agree many would say i was stupid, but i agree that some people carry around themselves some vibe - you feel it and know if you can or can not trust them.

Finally, just be careful and try to feel those vibes.

God bless you all

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