Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Clean Hands, Pure Heart - Hopefully

I had an experience while on vacation that really gave me pause.

We had stopped for gas at a Safeway. I went inside to use the restroom. A couple of youngsters were in full dash ahead of me. A boy and his younger sister. Their mother was elsewhere. The boy was going to go in until he saw me. Not sure what to do, he asked me if I'd keep an eye on his sister. Me. A total stranger. The mother was elsewhere. Without thinking I said, "Sure."

I had finished washing my hands when she appeared and looked up at me, hands outstretched. "Want to wash 'em?" She nodded.

The first thought that came to mind was how do I lift this child without endangering either of us. Not because of a bad back. The frightening thing was it occurred to me I could be accused of mistouching her. That the thought even entered my mind shocked me. But lift her I did. First enough to wet her hands, then a bit higher to the soap dispenser and back to the water. She grinned her thanks as she dried her hands, waited for me to open the hefty door and ran out to her mother who had finally materialized.

She gave me a look that chilled my bones and at the same time angered me. The boy caught the look, said thanks and ran after his sister. I returned the mother's look. My silent thought was, "Where were you?"

They went on their way and I on mine.

Here we were in the middle of no where. A couple of kids trusted a total stranger because their mother had left them to fend for themselves. Here I was trying to be helpful yet fully cognizant that I could be accused of something unthinkable. They were lucky. I was lucky.

What a world we live in these days, eh?

3 comments:

Betty said...

That is really scary. What was the girl's mother thinking, sending her son to the bathroom with his sister, putting him in a position where he couldn't go in with her? I just don't understand people, sometimes - most of the time.

Word Tosser said...

It really is a shame that life has to be like this... before a child cried, you comfort them with a hug. Now you don't dare. That is really a sad thing...

I agree with Betty.

Ted Wallace said...

we live in a world where one has to be constantly on guard. Some of us remember when things were different and shouldn't judge those who know no better but IT IS hard!
Ted