"Oh my gosh, it's so cold!" I thought, as I gathered my coat around me, pulled my hat down over my ears to guard them from the wind and sleet, and trudged into Wal Mart for what seemed like the umpteenth time. I felt the blast of warm air on my face as I pushed through the entrance. I was only there for two things, and I moved quickly through the store. Thank goodness they hadn't turned this one into a Super Wal Mart yet. A quick trip in and out was still possible here. It was late, and the weather was bad, so there weren't a lot of people clogging the lanes. I paid for my items and made my way to the exit. Being an older Wal Mart, this store had an entrance area with arcade games and rides for kids, quarter candy machines, newspaper racks and benches. I noticed there was someone sitting on one of the benches as I came through the first exit door.
I say "someone" because, honestly, it looked like a man dressed up like a woman, or it was a large woman wearing an unfortunate wig. She was heavily bundled up with her scarf wound around her head and neck to where only a few sprigs of hair were visible. She was tall to me. I am only 5'2", so most everyone is "tall" to me, but I took notice that she was tall for a woman at what I would guess was about six feet tall. She was a heavy woman and even in this weather, was wearing a skirt. I had no idea why she was sitting there or what she was waiting on. I assumed she was either waiting for a break in the weather or waiting for a ride.
Our eyes met for just that brief moment where you cannot deny you noticed each other. I gave a smile as I began to pass by her, reaching for the next exit door to head to my car. Then she spoke to me through her scarf, "Excuse me, but could you help me?" I let the door close and took a step back. I think to myself, I just want to get home lady, can't you see this weather?! Instead, what comes out is, "Sure. What can I do?" She pointed out toward the parking lot and said, "My car is right there, but this sleet has made the ground slippery, and I could really use some help getting there." She stood up, and I noticed that she had a cane. I thought to myself, there is no way I can keep her from falling if she falls. She's much bigger than me. If she goes down, we're both goin' down. And then, because I read too many mysteries and crime novels, I thought, what if it really is a man dressed up like a woman and he just wants to get me to his vehicle so he can torture and kill me? I figured with the differences in our size and the fact that she had a cane and I didn't, I'd have a good shot at escaping, so I said to her, "You're right. It is really slippery out there. How can I help?" She took my arm and slowly shuffled out of the door, and we made our way down the slope just outside of the door and across the parking lot to her small car.
Thankfully, we reached the car with no slipping and sliding and no need for emergency services to remove either one of us from the icy parking lot. She took her keys out, opened the driver's side door and eased her backside in. I remember thinking, why do large people always seem to buy small cars? as she was having trouble turning herself forward in the seat. I felt myself wanting to reach down and push her feet in for her because she didn't seem to have the strength to pull them up into the car, so that's just what I did. She was in driving position now but was a little out of breath. She said, "Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you." I responded, "You're welcome. God bless you." I really don't know why that last part came out of my mouth. Not because I don't believe in God, I totally do, but because I had never voluntarily spoken those words to anyone before, and they just leaped out as if my brain forgot to tell me what I was going to say. I closed her door and made my way to my car. As I backed the car up and pulled around to the next aisle where she was still parked, I could see her sitting there, crying. Sobbing, actually. Not knowing what else I could do for her and not wanting to interfere, I just lifted her up in prayer as I continued on my way.
I've thought of this woman from time to time in the years since this happened. I never saw her again. I'll never know why she reached out to me to help her out of the other people I'm sure she saw come in and out of the store, or why she cried so heavily, what burdened her heart. I've wondered why our paths crossed at that particular moment in time, and I've come to believe that we are all put in certain places at certain times for a larger purpose than we will ever comprehend while we are here. There are times when your heart guides you even when something inside you tells you not to listen, and you are grateful in the end that you did listen.