Monday, January 21, 2019

Good Samaritans?

Samaritan: a person who is generous in helping people in distress. 

(Merriam-Webster.com)


It was mid-afternoon and hottish. Not tropical heat hot, but the Florida sun can be intense when the thermometer hovers in the 70s. Hub and I walked from our rental cottage in Lake Worth to the downtown area, eager to savor a late lunch. Not much car traffic along Federal Highway, a busy thoroughfare early morning and evening, and mid-day almost devoid of pedestrians. We were the only foot travelers until encountering another fellow trekker.


Strolling along we approached a woman pushing herself with a rollator - a walker with a seat - moving at an agonizingly slow pace.  She appeared exhausted and struggled to put one foot in front of another.


“Can we help you?” I asked. The woman was neatly dressed in a purple skirt, pair of flats, a deep red top, black jacket and a purple hat that covered all but a few wisps of her curly gray hair. 


“Oh, I am so tired,” she whispered slowly and distinctly. “I need a little push.”


“We can help,” I responded. She maneuvered herself into the seat of the walker and placed her feet on the walker’s bar.


“Where are you going?”


“To see my son.”


“Where does he live?”


“Sixth Street. I think. I just need a little push. Thank you.”


The next cross street was Sixth. At the corner we paused.


“Do you know where he lives?”


“This way,” and she pointed left. We crossed the street and walked one block. The woman hesitated and looked around. It became apparent she had no idea where her son lived.


“Can we call your son?”


“No. He has my phone. The phone is dead. I am bringing him my charger,” and, rummaging through her pocketbook, showed us her phone charger.


Further discussion elicited the information that she had taken the bus from Delray Beach - she had a free bus pass - and her son lived in Lake Worth. Where had she gotten off the bus? How far had she walked? She did not know, now confused and disoriented. 


“May I look through your pocketbook for the number of a person we can call to help you?” She agreed.


I scanned through a notebook found in her purse. Questioning the woman, Cessandra by name, we learned there were no other children, relatives or friends, except cousins living out of state. She provided her son’s name, and hub attempted to locate information on him online, with no success.


We steered the woman under a tree offering some relief from the sun and I secured water from a nearby business.


 Cessandra needed additional help hub and I could not provide. We called the police. 


A few minutes later a patrol car pulled up. We briefed the patrolman and he proceeded to question Cessandra. What is your name?…Date of birth…Your son’s name?…Do you have any ID? (She had an old driver’s license with an old address)…Do you know your current address? (She did)…Your son’s address? (She did not)…Where does he work? (She did not know.) His date of birth? (She knew the month and day, but was unsure of the year)…How long has he lived in Lake Worth? (She did not know) She had been to his house once but could not remember where it was located…the patrolman accessed a computer in his patrol car and spoke with unknown persons on the phone. 


The policeman could not find any information on Cessandra’s son. I suspect her son was staying with friends in Lake Worth and had no permanent address, phone, or recent ID. 


There was nothing more Hub and I could do. We bid good-bye to the woman, assured her she would be taken good care of, and continued into town.


I doubt Cessandra hooked up with her son that afternoon. Most likely the police transported her to a local bus stop where she boarded a bus for home. It would be her son’s responsibility to connect with his mother. Meanwhile she would be safe at home.


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