an unexpected ride home

An Unexpected Ride Home From The Drug Store

A late-night bid for relief becomes a surprise good turn

When journalist Alissa Greenberg was suffering what she called “a terrible sinus infection” recently, she and her boyfriend made a late-night trip to the local Walgreens to pick up some medicine and get her some relief. But then an unexpected thing happened: “This old lady approaches me and says, ‘Excuse me, did you come here by car?’ And, you know, it’s Berkeley, so there are a lot of strange people that ask you [things like], ‘Can you buy me dinner, I just need five dollars to get the bus.’ And unfortunately you always want to be a human, but also now I’ve been trained to be cynical.”

“But before I could stop myself, I said yes,” Greenberg recalls. “Then I realized, I didn’t come in my own car, I came in my boyfriend’s car. And he’s looking at me like, Why did you say that?”

But by then it was too late, as the stranger pressed on with her inquiries: “I was wondering if you could give me a ride. I’m carrying these heavy water bottles, and I just need to go a few blocks,” she told the young couple.

“It’s really too bad that it doesn’t work that way. But we walk around in these bubbles that prohibit that.”

“We were trying to telepathically communicate among ourselves, Could this person harm us? Is this a scam? Is she going to pull out a gun? But she looks like she’s 75,” Greenberg said.

With a look and a shrug, Greenberg and her boyfriend told the woman they could take her where she was going. But they still needed sinus medicine, and started to head into the store. “I’ll just wait for you outside,” the woman told them.

“She was so blasé about it, like it was a totally normal thing to approach strangers and ask for a ride,” Greenberg told Good Turns recently. Meanwhile, Greenberg’s boyfriend was thinking, “Could she be packing? What’s the worst possible outcome here?”

“She was maybe a little off, but in the way that Berkeley hippies are sometimes a little off,” Greenberg said. “When I came out, she just got in the car and gave us directions, and when we got there she took her giant paper bag full of water bottles and walked up the hill and that was the end of it.”

“We were talking about it afterward, and it’s really too bad that it doesn’t work that way,” Greenberg said. “If I knew there were some little old ladies shopping at the same time as me and needed some help going home, I’d be like, Sure! But we walk around in these bubbles that prohibit that.”

For at least one night, Greenberg and her boyfriend were able to step outside their bubble—a nice challenge for the rest of us to step outside of ours.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Peter Burka

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