The other day, I got a wee bit lost in an area of Savannah that I did not know well. I don't know how many of you have explored downtown Savannah, but if you go over a few streets in certain directions, the safety of the streets seems to deteriorate quickly. There are several streets with huge houses, beautiful yards with wonderful trees and then two streets over it looks like, well, another city. Rugged and dirty with people trapped in another existence.
Anyway, I took a wrong turn, turning right instead of left, and several minutes later, I sort of lost where I was. I don't have the best direction skills, but I know the streets I have traveled on for years.
Anyway, I see this old gas station and I go in to ask for directions. The first thing I noticed was that the pumps were old – no credit card swiping at this station. Normally I avoid these gas stations. I would rather swipe a card than enter a gas station. I always think of gas stations like convenience stores – you know, a place where the cashier probably has seen a weapon or two and may even have been shot at.
I enter this dimly lit station, and immediately I see several people inside. People that look like life has treated them hard. There are people that look as if they have control of things, and people who look like the environment controls them – these fell into the latter category. My first instinct was to exit the building quickly, get in my car, and lock the doors. Then drive off, lost. But instead, I mustered up my courage and asked for directions. When I am scared, I normally want to look like I am in control, swinging my arms with authority, and seem as if I know the area well. Instead, I was timid, brushing my hair behind my ears and asking meekly for directions – not much of a hard ass.
As I was asking the clerk, who looked kinder than any of the patrons, a dirty man stood uncomfortably close behind me, waiting to buy a large beer that would inevitably find its way into a brown bag. I looked back at him – and his skin looked more grey from dirt than anything – hence the description as "dirty".
Then another very large and somewhat younger man looked at me, stared at me, and opened his mouth. I wanted to bolt for the door, but the large man said, "Frank, get the hell away from the little lady. Mind your manners." Instantly, I felt as if there was some sort of code – that some skinny white woman gets a pass at getting hit on in this store. At least when the large man is around. I got my directions and left the store.
Afterwards, I thought this little scene is sort of like life. I mean, occasionally we get lost and don't know where to go. We can ask for help, if we are brave enough to, but it takes more courage than normal. And sometimes other people help us find our way. Sometimes they don't even realize how helpful they have been. There are kind people in the world who will help us. And there are others who can give us direction. All we have to do is ask.