Kindness Doesn’t Take Half-Days

, , , , , , | Hopeless | November 3, 2018

When I was seven, my family moved to a new house, which was the first house of a new development. By the time school started, a few other families had moved into other houses, but we hadn’t gotten the chance to meet them yet.

One day our school had a half-day, and we were all sent home early. The school bus dropped me off and I happily skipped home, ready to enjoy my extra time off. When I reached my house, I suddenly realized no one was home to greet me. I was always losing things, so my parents never gave me a key. I was scared and cold, and had no way of getting inside, so I did the only thing I could think of: I hid behind a bush in the garden and cried.

I don’t know how long I was there, but it was long enough that I couldn’t cry anymore and my hands were numb. That’s when a strange man approached me. He started asking me questions. “What’s your name?” “Where are your parents?” “Do you need help?” I didn’t answer any of his questions; I just kept shaking my head no, since I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers. He walked away, and I started to cry again. I was even more scared because I thought someone was going to take me.

A while later the man came back, and I was scared stiff. I thought for sure he was going to take me away. Instead, he silently and slowly handed me a cell phone; cells weren’t too common back then. When I answered the phone, I heard my dad’s voice on the other side. We exchanged our “secret passcode,” and he told me the man was our neighbor. He was a good person, and was going to take me to a demo house where I could wait until my dad could get me.

Once I hung up and handed the phone back, my neighbor smiled at me and took me over to his house. We spent a few minutes there as he warmed me up with a blanket, some hot chocolate, and a few cookies. Once I was warm and happy, he took me to the demo house where a woman greeted me. She sat with me for an hour and taught me how to use a Rubik’s cube until my dad finally came and picked me up.

Years later, I found out everything that happened. The school had never informed the parents that there was a half-day, and they were sued for neglect. My neighbor, who was on his way to work, happened to notice my little pink coat poking out from behind the bush. When he talked to me and I denied his help, he was planning on letting it go and leaving for work, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave me. He called up the Homeowner’s Association and let them know what was going on, and they’re the ones who called my dad. My dad told them I’d never leave to answer the phone, so the neighbor drove over, picked up the cell phone, and brought it to me to answer. He ended up being an hour late to work that day. The nice lady who stayed with me kept the house open two hours later than she was supposed to so she could be sure I was safe and warm while I waited for my parents.

Those people are still a part of my life to this day, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such wonderful and kind people as my neighbors. I honestly don’t know what would have happened that day without them.

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