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The Stranger

A Stranger "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!". This haunting quote by Robert Burns seems to be an ongoing theme historically…especially now. If you choose to watch the news, you have, by now, seen unthinkable terror. I grew up in the days of the Vietnam War. Every evening, the horror happening in Hanoi was flashed onto the TV screens in our homes. I was too young to encapsulate that level of inhumanity, but I have never forgotten it. With modern weaponry and technology, the impact currently seems much greater; if possible, the display of evil appears graver. But I want to take a different direction this October weekend before Halloween, the Full Hunter's Moon, and fall festivals. I want to tell a short story with a huge message to warm your heart. The story took place about eight or nine years ago. My then twenty-year-old daughter was traveling to Lafayette to visit a friend. Like you, I always worried when Highway 182 was involved. She was in her brother William's Isuzu Trooper, a sturdy, but pretty old, hand-me-down car. As nightmares go, the car began to hesitate when she was nearly on Highway 90. She was able to pull into the Shell gas station/truck stop at the end of 182. She called her dad. Thankfully, cell phones were a thing then. While waiting, a man in a pickup truck, most likely an oilfield employee, approached her, realizing her dilemma, and asked if he could help. "No, thank you. My dad is on his way." Scary…that encounter could have gone terribly wrong; it was dark, and little activity was happening there. Obviously, her dad showed up, exchanged cars with her, drove the Trooper home, and she continued her journey to visit her friend. The part of this story I want to interject into these present moments of inhumanity has to do with this man, the stranger she encountered. When her dad pulled up to her car, the stranger appeared once again. He spoke to her directly, asking her if that was her dad. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, he had been parked and watching out for her in the distance, waiting to ensure her dad came, and then, allowing her to confirm that that was indeed her dad, ready to handle the situation if he had not have been. I have always remembered that moment. When I travel in front of that Shell station, I think of him, a stranger, a man with a strong moral code, doing something honorable he would never be recognized for. There was no post on Facebook, no display of ego, just an ordinary man being soundlessly extraordinary. Think of him in contrast to the evil we see in the news and hold on to the hope that more of these people will ‘show up’. Perhaps that man is you or me... Have a happy Halloween, and watch for the Hunter's Moon tonight… Pam Shensky Berry Tales October 28, 2023

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