First Impressions Can Be Deceiving

by Bryan Nolan
Texas, USA

First Impressions Can Be Deceiving

The afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2001, my son and I were riding bicycles past the grade school near our home and noticed a gentleman and a small girl playing on a seesaw. I reckoned this peculiar because the school’s playground was fenced in and locked up.

As we rode by, the man told us where to climb over the fence, but we politely declined, opting to continue our ride. I noticed this man had difficulty speaking and walked with a limp. I merely assumed he was intellectually and physically challenged. I must admit that his speech and actions made me hesitant to join in, but I soon discovered first impressions can be very deceiving.

Upon returning, I noticed the gentleman trying to climb over the fence but having a very difficult time. When asked for help, I readily obliged. Our first attempt failed miserably. This chain link fence had sharp wires at the top, so this was not going to be easy.

Thinking quickly, I asked him to wait while I raced back to the house to get a stepladder. I knew one ladder would only get him to the top of this menacing fence and in the same predicament we had just gotten into. So I ran to my neighbor Kevin’s house to borrow his step ladder.

I didn’t give Kevin much explanation, but he was good-natured enough to loan it anyway. With two 6-foot step ladders loaded into my truck, I drove back to the school, and propped ladders on each side of the fence. In a few precarious minutes, this gentleman was safely over the fence with nary a cut or torn stitch of clothes.

The man thanked me for all I had done and then explained his situation. He was a Dallas police officer visiting our town, and had taken his niece to the playground to play. He had recently been in a serious auto accident, colliding head on into a semi truck on a rain-soaked highway. He had spent many weeks recovering and the left side of his body was partially paralyzed. It was a miracle that he had survived this accident, let alone been able to walk afterwards.

Amazingly, instead of simply accepting the gratitude he bestowed for my help, I really wanted to thank him for allowing me the opportunity to help him. You see, it was the day before Christmas and I was feeling rather empty, but didn’t really know why. After helping him, an inspiring feeling came over me — a feeling of pure goodness and pride in having helped another person. It was a feeling in the true spirit of Christmas… or any time for that matter.

But I want to give credit where it belongs. As a subscriber to HeroicStories since its inception, I have often found its theme affecting my daily activities. Thank you, HeroicStories, and everyone involved with it, for keeping me inspired to do good for others whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Originally published as HeroicStories #285 on March 7, 2002

1 thought on “First Impressions Can Be Deceiving”

  1. Thank you for sharing that, even though it’s from 2002,Heroic Stories has inspired me to go above and beyond several times.


Leave a Comment