Some Little Action I Can Take

by Marie Clark
Pennsylvania, USA

Rain began to pour down in buckets as my husband and I left a lovely Philadelphia restaurant and headed back to our car. Purse in one hand, dinner leftovers in the other, we raced toward the parking lot. My husband Mark popped the trunk and I threw leftovers and purse in, and then jumped in the car.

Some Little Action I Can TakeAs we pulled out of the parking lot onto the one-way street, we both noticed a couple struggling along in the rain. The woman was short and slightly built. She was pushing the man, who was in a wheelchair. Although the night was cold and wet, neither was dressed warmly. This was an area in Old City, where the sidewalks have been around since the revolution and show it in each bump and crack. We could see the effort it took to propel the chair down the walk. We drove slowly by them, each of us wishing we could help them. But what could we do? Our car is small — we could never have fit both them and the chair into the back.

It was silent in the car as we headed for the bridge. Suddenly, my husband made a quick left, and then another. I understood he was heading back, looking for the couple, but I didn’t know why.

We didn’t see them immediately. They must have cut through one of the numerous local alleyways. We made another pass around the block and then, giving up, headed back for the bridge.

Just as I was saying, “They must live nearby. I’m sure they’re OK,” we saw them in the headlights. Mark pulled the car slightly ahead of the couple, who stood looking at him a little fearfully. He went back to the trunk and opened it. “He’s giving them the leftovers,” I thought.

But no. He reached into the trunk and came out with my big, brand-new golf umbrella. He’d noticed it when we opened the trunk earlier. He approached the couple in the pouring rain and opened the umbrella. He handed it to the man and smiled at him, without saying a word. Then he jumped back in the car and we drove away.

I had a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit when I looked back at the two strangers under the huge umbrella. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces. And I’ll never forget the smile on my husband’s face as we headed home.

Mark has never told a soul about this. That’s just the kind of guy he is. But that event stays with me now, and I find myself looking for opportunities to help others out, even when it seems certain that I am not in the position to help. I am always surprised by how often something will occur to me — some little action I can take that makes a difference to someone else. You never know what you might have forgotten  in your own trunk!

Originally published as HeroicStories #277 on Jan 15, 2008

1 thought on “Some Little Action I Can Take”

  1. This story inspired me when I read it 9 years ago–and as a result I always carry a few extra umbrellas in my trunk, and have been on the watch for people in need. When I shop at Ikea I pick up a few umbrellas each time, the big blue and yellow ones that can cover two people, and I have been delighted at opportunities to share them. Thanks for the inspiration to do this little act that can make a difference!


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