This story is one of three that were written for a service on outreach.
If you want to see how it fits in that context, then click
here for details of the service.
You’d have thought at my age I would have learned you can’t judge by appearances. But even in your eighties people can still surprise you by what they do – or don’t do.
Yesterday I had to nip down to Asda for a few essentials. I say ‘nip down’, but it was more of a ‘totter down’. I’m not as fast as when I was young. I’m not as strong neither. And I ended up buying a bit more than I should. So by the time I was halfway home me arms were killing me, and I had to stop to get me puff back.
Just up the road, there were these three waiting at the bus stop. There was a chap in a dark suit carrying a briefcase. There was Mrs Royce who runs the WI, looking very prim and proper as usual. And there was this young lass with streaks of pink in her hair and a bare midriff. I bet you’re a right little madam, I thought. If you was my granddaughter I’d have a thing or two to say. Parading your stomach around for all and sundry to see. Spoiling your hair with unnatural colours. And it’s a wonder you can walk anywhere in those great clumpy shoes without turning an ankle.
Anyway, after a bit of a rest I struggled on past them and crossed the road by the zebra crossing. Just as I was stepping up on the far kerb, over I went. The shopping bag burst. Tins and packets everywhere. And me sprawled flat on me face. Actually I was lucky. I was more surprised than hurt. As I tried to sit up I happened to catch the chap in the suit looking at me. He took half a step towards me then turned and saw the bus coming and stuck out his hand. Mrs Royce looked for a moment like she was going to come over, but then she saw the bus too and suddenly seemed to lose interest in me.
But the next thing I knew was this voice asking, “Are you all right?” and there was the pink-haired lass helping me sit up. When she found I wasn’t seriously hurt she got together all the shopping. The milk carton had burst, so she made me wait whilst she popped into the corner shop for more milk and a new bag to carry everything. By this time her bus had been and gone, but she said, “Don’t worry, there’ll be another,” and sat down with me until I felt well enough to get up.
As I was standing, along came Elsie from next door, all in a fluster at seeing me being helped up by this young lady. When I explained about the fall she grabbed the shopping. “Come on, I’ll see you home,” she said. The girl said would I be OK now I was with my friend and I said yes and thank you for the help. “No problem,” she said and wandered back to the bus stop.
Elsie fussed over me all the way home. And she wasn’t impressed by the girl who had helped me up. “I know her,” she said. “She lives near my sister. Her name’s Samantha and she’s one of them New Age followers. You know, that weird lot who believe in Tarot cards and crystals. I should steer well clear if I were you.”
I’ve been thinking it over since yesterday, and what I think is this. I don’t know much about New Age or whatever they call it. But if I ever decided to take up some religion, then it would definitely be one that teaches its followers to care about other people. And whatever funny ideas Samantha believes in, she was the one who went out of her way to help me. That must count for something.