Walking to school one morning last week, my kids and I found a health card and bus pass.
I figured that the woman (in her sixties by her card) must live in my neighbourhood and she would be pretty eager to her cards back. An internet search revealed only a few old leads. Two were from newletters for a nearby church so I called there and left a message. The other lead was from a name mentioned as the bereaved spouse of a death listing in the local paper from years ago. The Ministry of Health office couldn’t help other than telling me to just send the health card to them; but they couldn’t do anything about the bus pass.
So I called a friend who lives on my street to find out if we have anyone in the neighbourhood whose name matched the identification. She confirmed that we do. Jackpot!
Overly pleased with my impressive detective abilities, I slipped my shoes on and walked over to her house. No one answered the door. A big spider web across the front door told me that maybe it hadn’t been used in a while, so I peeked around the side to see if there was an alternate entry. No luck, so I trotted back to home to get an envelope to leave in her mailbox.
As I approached the mailbox, I heard a sharp voice above me, calling out “Do I know you?!” I located the sound to the upstairs window and reported my business. She replied, “I called the police on you!”.
When she came to open the door she took the envelope from my hand and tore it open so fast that the contents fell on the floor. As she picked them up, she explained that a “homeless woman with a basket” had been knocking at her door a few days prior, and that she had called the police then too.
While explaining how she lost her cards, her voice was shaking and she accidentally flung them out of her hand again. After she picked them up again, I asked if she needed a hug. She accepted. She said she should go back in and call the police again to tell them not to come. I suggested that it would probably be a while until they came anyway so she didn’t need to rush. She walked me home to see where I live, and then we parted ways.
When I got home, my internal dialogue was going nuts. It was saying stuff like: “Wow, is that what happens when you try to help someone; they call the cops on you?” and “Wow, she’s really super-anxious; poor woman.” But then I heard a different message and I liked this one a lot better.
It was this: “I started off trying to return her identification cards; but what I hope she got from this was the thought that the world can be a safe place, that sometimes strangers are people who will help if they can, and that I don’t need to be afraid every time someone knocks on my door.” I believe that these ideas may be foundational to mental and social well-being.
A couple of days later, I found some foil-wrapped chocolates for the kids, and a lovely hand-made “Thank you” card in my mailbox. It has her email address written on the back.