A Stranger At The Door

Today’s post comes from Joanne in Big Lake

Ours wasn’t the first door she knocked on during a frigid Minnesota evening.  Bedraggled, vulnerable but still pretty, 19-yr old Emily showed up on our doorstep, desperately looking for help.  How she ended up in Big Lake is a mystery and the last 3 days were a fuzzy high for her.  Kicked out of her parent’s house a year before, she was another sad story of a homeless teen with no job, no money, no place to live and an admitted meth amphetamine user.  Even her wallet and ID were left somewhere else.

All she had was a phone that had no service or number.  She needed a Wi-Fi in order to contact friends via Messenger to find a place to go.  My husband happened to be home because he was sick and left work early.  I was busy making supper, so Jim answered her knock on the door and brought her into our hearts.  I was suspicious, but Jim has a big heart and talked to her to figure out what she needed.

After a several minutes of talking to her, she did not want to see the police or go to the doctor to be checked out.  After giving her some snacks, Jim drove her to a nearby Coborns store where they have free public Wi-Fi, and she eventually contacted a trusted friend with a place to stay.  I called a youth homeless shelter to find out what else we could do or where she could go.  They had an emergency bed available for the night in Brooklyn Park, but we could not make her go.

So Jim drove Emily to her friend’s house in Blaine, listened to her story and showed great kindness with a non-judgmental attitude.  I prayed and cried for her and hope for the best for her.  Unfortunately, I fear she has a brutal and possibly short life ahead of her until she makes some serious changes.

When have you done a good deed for someone and wondered about the outcome?

17 thoughts on “A Stranger At The Door”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Nice post, Joanne. Thanks for your thoughts about this topic of Good Deeds or altruism or “Do Unto Others” or Karma or Pay It Forward. Whatever we choose to call this, it fascinates me. Here is an example in my life of Pay It Forward.

    I clearly remember the long term results of being at the receiving end of this. When I was young, my family struggled mightily during a nightmarish few years during which my dad was diagnosed with MS and my brother was born needing a blood transfusion. Dad lost his drivers license due to impaired vision, but he needed to log a few more months at his job as a County Extension Director and 4-H organizer to qualify for some Federal Civil Service benefits.

    His bosses worked together to drive him for months around the county so that he could meet this criteria. These two guys also bought him some life insurance. That small pension supplemented my mother’s teaching salary, allowing some small financial ease.

    When Dad died in 1998 that insurance policy paid out. We in turn donated that insurance money back to the same system, the Iowa State 4-H Foundation, which provides college scholarships to Iowa 4-H participants. I have added to this money, as have others. Each year there is a new scholarship recipient of Dad’s scholarship. It is not much money, maybe enough to cover some books. But it is there, paying forward the kindness and generosity of these two men who did such loving service in 1960.

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  2. A teenage girl runaway in my childhood came to our door. Know nothing about her then or now.
    Only one sore hand to type with this week.

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  3. Morning all! I have a few situations where I’ve helped out, but I suppose the one I remember the most clearly was a few years ago.

    I live on a busy street which was torn up for almost a year while they replaced all the sewers underneath and who knows what else. Toward the end of the construction, they re-did all the driveway aprons first before doing the last layers of the street, so there was a 2-inch lip at the bottoms of all our driveways. As I was cutting the grass on my boulevard one Saturday afternoon, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone crossing the street. I kept going and when I turned the corner to go the other direction I saw a woman who had clearly fallen at the end of my driveway. She was banged up, and looked like she’d hit her face; she had a pretty bad cut under her lip. I ran inside and got a kitchen towel and my phone. Called 911 who got there quickly considering the road wasn’t open and also called her husband to let him know what was going on.

    About 3 weeks later, an older gentleman knocked on my door – her husband. Apparently the cut under her lip has been caused by a tooth going through – she’d had to have a couple of surgeries. They were trying to get some satisfaction from the county because of the unevenness between the road the and the driveways; he wanted to know if I could testify if needed. I had to tell him honestly that while I felt terrible for their situation, I simply did not see her actually trip and fall. When I turned, she was already down. He thanked me anyway and the next day I came home to a little bag with 2 new kitchen towels in it and a thank you note for helping her. I’ve always wondered if they got anything for her injuries.

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  4. I have not turned away any desperate strangers, and yet I can’t recall saving anybody in trouble. I’ll think more about this. The only story I recall is one I mentioned once before. I was driving to the grocery store on a blustery day when I noticed two old women on foot being buffeted and spun around by the wind. They were out of control, so I rolled down my van window and offered them a ride. They were delightful women in their 80s.

    Giggling wildly at their inability to walk, they got in. They identified themselves as “two old nuns” on a mission to renew prescription drugs at Snyder’s. I told them they were close to becoming “two old sails” in that wind. When they went to the pharmacy I waited, then took them back home to a convent about a mile away.

    On the return drive Sister Constance Marie suggested I had been sent by God to save them. “In that case, God has a sense of humor,” I told them. “God should have sent you a sweet Catholic boy. Instead you got a fat old atheist.” They rushed to assure me that God would appreciate my good deed.

    “Anyway,” said Sister Constance Marie, “you helped two nuns. That counts as two favors, I’d say. You helped us two times. That’s the equivalent of helping four nuns.” “And we would have had to change buses,” said Sister Elizabeth, “so you get credit for six good deeds today.”

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  5. Unfortunately, Joanne, there are many stories like the one you’ve just told, and there’s very little hope for a happy ending. It’s possible, but not likely. Here’s another one.

    While working at the law firm, one of the legal secretaries (that I had hired) turned out to be in an abusive marriage. The day I interviewed her she was on crutches, the result of a downhill skiing accident, she said. She was a good secretary with excellent skills, and was well liked by everyone. At her desk she had a photo of her handsome husband and her beautiful six or seven year old daughter surrounded by hearts and flowers, e regular shrine. She was always well groomed and immaculately dressed.

    As the months passed, she’d show up at the office with some regularity with bruises that she always attributed to some weird mishap. Or she’d miss work for a day or two due to some fall. I began having misgivings about what was going on in her private life, but there was nothing I could do. Then one day she showed up with her arm in a sling. On their way home from northern Minnesota their car had hit a bear, she said. I invited her to my office for a talk. I asked her to tell me about the accident, where and how it had happened. It was obvious to me that she was extremely uncomfortable talking about it. When she started to cry, I was pretty sure I was on to something. When I asked her point blank if her husband was physically abusive, she nodded.

    To make a long story short, we harnessed all the resources the firm had to deal with her situation. We found her and her daughter a safe place to stay, helped her move, encouraged her to press charges against her husband, and she did. She went into counseling, and we were hopeful that things would work out for her. But about two weeks later, she dropped the charges, and moved back home; her husband had sweet talked her and promised never to hurt her again, and their pastor would be counseling them both. I met with her and told her that one more incident would result in her losing her job, that we could not allow the turmoil of her marriage to spill into our office. She understood. About three weeks later she was let go when she showed up in the office with a black eye. I often wonder if she’s still alive.

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  6. I once befriended a young woman whose schizophrenia was so painful she became suicidal. It is a story I formerly liked to tell. Now it just saddens me. I’d happily send the story to anyone who writes to ask me for it, but I don’t want to post it here.

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  7. Hi–
    The kindness shown in your stories is wonderful. And it is sad how often we don’t know the outcomes.
    I think often it could be some simple thing we hardly think about that might be just the thing some people need. Letting them go first in a line, holding a door, ect.
    Here at the college, we really have no idea what a lot of these people are dealing with. We all try to be supportive and encouraging for as long as possible. But if they’re not following through on homework or assignments or being in a play… how long can you let that go?
    Even if we do understand, we have to recast or move on. It’s tough.
    And sometimes we don’t see the student again after that and we don’t know what’s become of them.
    I always hope for the best but you just don’t know.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Great stories, baboons.

    One time a friend and I were walking down in Sochachi Park (right by our Robbinsdale house) on what I would call a deer trail on the edge of a “slough”. The trail was just wide enough for one person or a bike, and was fairly rugged, rocky, with quite a drop off to the water. We rounded a corner to find that a probably-85-year-old man had slipped down at a stretch of ground that was even narrower, and sloped rather than level. (It really needed re-grading from erosion.) He wasn’t in danger of falling into water because of several more trees on the way down, but it was clear he was “out of his depth”. Friend and I were able to help him back up to the trail – I was so glad she was with me because I don’t think I could have done it alone, and it was a 10 minute walk out for other help. (and of course I had no cell phone on me.) He was very grateful – I hope he realized that he should not be doing that trail solo any more.

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  9. Great post, Joanne. I know too many teens like her. Bless you and your husband. You never know what might be the turning point for her to accept help for that addiction.

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  10. I realized that more of our good deeds are within our families. We had a nephew live with us for almost two years, when his mom went “off the deep end”, until she was back to her self. But it never felt like a good deed, because he was such a delight, I’m sure we benefited at least as much from having him with us… he was Joel’s favorite cousin, too. And in this case I do know the outcome – he has turned out to be a wonderful young man.

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  11. My sister and her husband took a friend of one of my niece’s into their home for awhile. She had a difficult situation at home – her parents were divorced, and she lived with her mother, but the mom was schizophrenic and pretty unpredictable. The girl had started living in her car when she was about seventeen. At my sister’s place, she had a room in the basement, which was not up to code, as it has no egress, but they figured she was probably still safer sleeping there than in her car.

    I don’t know what she’s been doing lately, but I’m pretty sure my niece is still in touch with her. I’ll have to ask.

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