The other night we had an experience that reminded me of a very easy way to spread kindness: SHARE YOUR VEHICLE.
That is something we do often – when you see someone that needs a ride, offer it.
I guess we started doing it when we first moved into our house and our driveway was quite literally the BUS STOP for our street. People would wait for the bus at the end of our driveway! We ended up making friends with a man who took the bus often, and when the timing worked out and we were leaving while he was waiting for his bus, we asked if he wanted to jump in our car. Depending on the time of day he would be headed toward work at the movie theatre or home, and we would give him a lift. I think that is how we got started offering people rides.
Since then we do it every so often. I remember once this year we saw a family of 3 waiting for a bus. They were the only ones at the stop, and we could see a bus just a block away that we presumed they had just missed. It was a weekend, meaning they were going to have a long wait for the next bus. So we pulled around the block, came back around, and offered a ride. In they jumped – and we took them to Best Buy, where they told us they were going to spend their tax return on a new flat screen television! (We imagined that it might have been luckier for them if we had seen them AFTER their purchase, a tv would be hard to lug home on a bus!)
I am always on the look-out for people needing rides when I am at Arlington National Cemetery. My partner’s parents are interred there, so we have a permit to drive in the cemetery to visit their gravesites. But many people visiting Arlington do not have a permit, so they walk in, not realizing how huge the place is. I always pull over and offer rides to them, especially on very hot or super cold days, or to anyone in military uniform. They are, without exception, very grateful for the ride, and we have met some sweet people by giving them lifts.
The most recent ride we offered was in DC to a woman named Nicole this week. We were walking a few blocks back to our car after seeing a show, and we were at a red light with her waiting to cross. Her bus was already at the stop, and she was wishing she could rush across the street and get on it, but couldn’t cross yet. By the time she could, the bus had pulled away, but was stuck at the red light. We congratulated her for “making it”, then realized the bus driver wouldn’t open the door because he wasn’t at an official stop… So, we did what we do, we offered a ride! And she walked with us to her car and we drove her home. She was super sweet and it was a fun ride.
Of course, I am sure that some people would say this practice of giving rides to strangers is dangerous… And I know, it COULD be. But we are careful who we pick up, and so far (knock on wood) have not been hit over the head or car jacked. :) We have been refused, most notably by an African American couple trying to hail a cab in Washington DC during a blizzard. No cabs were stopping for them, so we pulled over. I rolled down my passenger window and offered them a ride, and they replied by telling us in no uncertain terms NO – “Do not do that! Do not be nice! That is dangerous!! You get on now! Do not be nice!!!” she admonished us. (I presume “You crazy white people!!” was also going through their heads.)
But, for us, giving rides to strangers has been lovely. It rarely takes much time (and in the grand
scheme of things, time is what we all have to share). It doesn’t often take us too far out of our
way. And it has introduced us to some
|Share a ride - meet a stranger|
I will close here by linking to a story I wrote in 2010 about one of our most rewarding experiences offering a stranger a ride. His name was Mark. He was homeless. We met him by helping some other strangers try and help him up when he was stuck, turtle-like, on his back in the snow. He had on surgical socks, no shoes (in the very, very deep snow) and was on crutches. After getting him back to a standing position, we spent 50 minutes with him in our car talking and singing show tunes together. I still remember how lovely it was six years later. His story is here: Happy Talk Keep Talkin' Happy Talk
So I guess my point is this: you have a vehicle? You are lucky, not everyone does. It you see someone who could benefit from a lift, and if the situation looks safe, take a chance. Be kind. Open your heart, open your car door. Give them a ride. They will appreciate it, and it might just make your heart happy.