This evening while driving home from work I happened to see a woman walking along the side of the highway. She turned briefly to oncoming traffic and threw her arm and thumb out wildly, obviously trying to catch the passing traffic's attention. For some reason I felt compelled to stop the car, noting sardonically that if it had been a lean, aged, and bearded man with a large backpack on I wouldn't have stopped.
When she got in the car I asked where she was going and was shocked to hear that her destination was thirty minutes away in the opposite direction. She began crying and thanked me over and over for stopping and told me that she had been walking for an hour-and-a-half, wishing that a passing car would just hit her. I told her to give me a second to get turned around, and she cautiously corrected me that the destination was ahead. Moments later she realized that she had been walking for an hour-and-a-half in the wrong direction and cried all the more.
She told me that four men broke into her home and murdered her husband, and that she was a witness. She and her kids had had to move out of their home, but shortly after the subpoena came to her temporary home, someone came and blew up her car (she said that the fire department told her that a bomb was planted on the car). She and her kids were now living wherever they could. She had no family to turn to, and without a car she wasn't able to get to work consistently. She had gotten disoriented earlier in the afternoon while walking back from looking for a used car. She continued crying and coughing, and apologized over and over.
As we approached her destination, I considered that I had no cash, but had the ability to buy her family dinner. I pulled into a drivethru, and she asked me to order two small burgers and some french fries. I joked that that wasn't enough food to constitute a dinner for me. When she replied that she and her kids didn't eat much, I smiled and said "I don't believe you. I think you're just trying to be careful on my behalf." Turning back to the window I blurted out "Make that three burgers," and pulled forward.
I spent $15 on my own lunch today. Why oh why didn't I blurt out " Triple that order!" Why oh why didn't I blurt out something that would have turned that order into a meal?
This evening I gave a woman a warm car to ride home in, an opportunity to voice her troubles and weep for her family anonymously, and I delivered her directly to her children. It cost me only time, and I feel miserable because I shorted her and her two children a filling meal.