Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Unforgettable Hug at Orange County Jail

--by supune, posted May 15, 2008
I volunteer for Orange County Jail's "Lights On" project on Saturday nights -- in a RV, from 11PM to 4AM, we provide a safe space for released prisoners until they find a ride home.  Of the many interesting stories I've heard, a particular story of 50 year old prisoner really touched me.

After his last stay in jail, this 50 years old guy was homeless. He did have a family member and a friend that would let him sleep over sometimes, but on this particular night, he decided to come back and hang out with us in the RV.

He told us how he has "anger issues".  He'd got into fights over "petty things", he'd been a small-time burglar, he'd been arrested for being under the influence while driving or being in public places. .  He'd been a small time burglar and had been in and out of incarceration for a lot of his life.  In fact, most of the friends he made were from prison (he'd pray with many of them and become friends that way).  And like that, he was just kind of floating through life.

One day while he was on parole, he was sitting at a bar drinking a beer. All of a sudden, the customers started running out to see some kind of commotion. When he got outside, he saw that there were 2 men beating a woman on top of a hill that was a few blocks away.

Nobody was doing anything but watching.  "I was a little drunk, but then all of a sudden I felt really angry about what I was seeing," he said.  The feeling inside him was so strong that his ears started ringing.  He doesn't remember how he jumped a couple fences and scraped up his hands as he got to where the action was going on, but by the time he realized what was going on, he had chased away one attacker and had another man in a choke hold!

Then, a taxi driver came and pulled a gun on all of them. Fortunately, the lady that was being beaten up was able to tell the taxi driver who the good guy was.  He told the taxi driver that he was on parole and didn't want to be involved at all; the taxi driver didn't say anything and let him run away.  The lady, it turns out, went into a coma for 2 weeks but thankfully, she survived.

Some time later, our prisoner friend actually ran into the lady on the streets, as she was able to say, "Thank you." But, the rescuer said that he didn't think much of it.

A few years later, while being released from another unrelated prison stay, he became friends with a man that he was released with. Later, he figured out that his new friend was the brother of the lady that was attacked.  After it was explained that his sister was saved by this new friend, the brother said, "Stand Up!". The rescuer was not sure what to do or even if this was a challenge to fight. But as he stood up, he got the biggest hug he had ever experienced!

And he said that's when the "Thank You" from before really sunk in, and he felt it.
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Readers Comments

kimj wrote: Very powerful story. God can change us like no man can. Thanks for sharing.
twocents wrote: Time at the jail is such a challenging, and therefore rewarding and necessary act of service in the world. Beautiful that you were able to connect deeply enough to hear about the synergies of how his own act of service came back to him.
Sundi wrote: This man is a hero - and you recognized it in sharing this story. Thank you.
Marcine wrote: I was reminded of how my friend in san francisco got mugged for his i phone in front of the public library at 5pm and everyone nearby just watched or took photos on their phones! Itis insanity when others don't intervene. Who's the real criminal when that happens? And let's not forget that the prison system is about capitalism now-it's big business gone berserk and i don't think the general public realizes how corrupt it is.
Jami2D wrote: Wow! I think that you have a wonderful opportunity to be able to meet these people. Glad to see you embracing them and not judging them. Listening, i mean really listening to people takes discipline, patients and compassion three great traits you seem to have:) keep the open mind and the embracing arms. Thank you,
sethi wrote: Thank you for sharing. Actions speak louder than words.
Brianna wrote: Some people talk with words, others speak with their hearts, and yet others speak with every day acts of kindness. My heart felt warm as i read this story of courage and the wonderful gift of life. A life that could have been cut short but thanks to a stranger who put himself in harms way, this life was saved. Then to find out that this life that was spared, had family incarcerated with the one who saved her life is something out of a fairy tale. Things do happen and most of the time the little things are over looked. But thank you god, for seeing that this brave man be thanked with something that so many people take for granted. An act of kindness.
michael wrote: I worked with prisoners and in prison no one touches anyone else except when fighting. So a big hug would be an unexpected gift. Great story of reaping and sowing. God bless these people
purvi shah wrote: I remember this saying:do small things with great love,and the smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.

I feel sorry about the plight of prisoners
They are treated inhumanly. Jail is not a place where they are reformed,they are only further hardened.
Hobart cahill wrote: God works in powerful ways
Been there!

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