Shawn had gone to the station for coverage while the duty crew was on an ambulance call. That left just Emily and myself at home for a couple of hours that evening. No big deal, Emily and I had plenty of playing and a nice warm bath to do.
After a good half hour spent giggling on the floor and practicing rolling over (she's so close!) I scooped up my little peanut and started to get her ready for a bath. As I was undressing her I heard my dogs jump up from where they were laying quietly and start to growl and bark at the door. Someone must be here, I thought, but it wasn't Shawn. It was far too soon for him to be home from the fire station. I peaked out the window from Emily's room and saw a beat-up old car pulled off the road along a grassy strip between my house and our neighbors. Who's car is that? ...I wondered as I headed to the door, knowing that whomever the car belonged to was in my breezeway.
With a naked baby in my arms and me in my pajamas the dogs saw me coming as I walked towards the door. They signaled there was someone on the other side with concerning barks and growls. What good watchdogs they are. Not knowing who was at my door and why caused part of me to be slightly concerned. It crossed my mind that I was a young female home alone with her infant baby and there was a stranger at my door. Perhaps it was someone we knew? Various scenrios fed by Hollywood dramas flooded my head. I pushed those thoughts aside and grabbed the door handle to open and greet the stranger. It turns out I had never seen this man before.
A tall and raggedy man stood in my breezeway. He was unkempt, unshaven, wearing a long, dark green army coat, and had a tear drop tattoo next to his eye. I must have had a look of concern and shock in my eyes when I first saw him, because he started to back up towards the door leading out of the breezeway and appologize over and over again to me. I tried to ignore the thoughts of what I heard on the TV show Lockup, that those year drop tattoos mean that person murdered another. Perhaps he was just as startled as I was, to be greeted at the door by a girl in her pajamas carrying a naked baby.
As he kept apologizing and backing up towards the door I stopped him and asked him was he wanted. His eyes were huge and sad. The man definitely had not had an easy life. He then began to explain to me how his car had an inaccurate gas gauge, he had no money, and he had run out of gas where his car sputtered to a stop right between our house an our neighbors. He begged me for help, for gasoline, just a tiny bit if I had any. Then he apologized again and again for even asking. I looked at him and told him to wait a second while I put Emily down and fetch our gas can for him. Grateful, he smiled and said he would wait outside for me to get it. He clearly didn't want to make me uncomfortable.
I placed Emily safely in her crib, naked butt and all, and then dug out our completely full five gallon gas can for the stranger. When I handed it to him he smiled and swiftly went out to his car parked along the side of the road and filled it up. I patiently waited for him to return the gas can as I watched him from inside the breezeway. Part of me kept wondering if he'd drive off with the gas. If he did, oh well, it was just gasoline.
A minute later the raggedy man came back. He set the gas can down and thanked me over and over. He claimed I saved his life, though admittedly I didn't ask him exactly how. Then he introduced himself and assured me that he would return with money to pay for the half of a gas can he just used.
Don't worry about it! I assured him that he didn't need to pay me. It was just a couple of bucks worth of gas. After all, I was fortunate enough to have a nice car, a nice house, clean clothes, and spare gasoline in my garage. The man thanked me over and over again. Have a Merry Christmas! He exclaimed and waved as he left my breezeway and headed to his car.
Sometimes I wonder if certain people are placed before us in our travels to test us. Maybe the gruff looking man was sent for some greater purpose? I have no way of knowing, but I felt good knowing that I made that stranger's night. It's things like this that define what this season is all about...
Good will towards all men (and women) alike.