“IT was the summer of 2012. I was headed to the US for my Master’s. I didn’t plan much before I came to the US. Also, I didn’t have any contacts in the town where I was going (Pullman,WA). I had paid a deposit for an apartment that I found on craigslist, while I was in India, and hoped to find a few fellow students nearby if I needed any help.
The day I came to the US, after a massive cultural shock that took some time for me to absorb, I realized what a terrible place I was living in. It was a private home in a typical American residential neighborhood, and the place was literally empty. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact how would some one live in such isolation, without any shops/stores nearby or any public transportation (I hadn’t figured out the car culture yet). I just stood there in front of the house, staring back at the empty street behind me. Fortunately, my room mate let me in, and left soon after. I decided to call my parents and my girlfriend to let them know I finally came home. That’s when I realized that my phone and laptop were dead and I forgot to bring US wall adapters to charge them with. I was shit scared. I thought, lets just explore the place, maybe I’ll find an “Electronics shop” nearby.
How wrong was I! I literally walked all around the neighborhood, and forgets shops, didn’t see a single living soul. As I was headed back to my place, I caught a glimpse of a deer crossing my path. Overly excited of watching an actual deer in the middle of the town, I decided to follow a deer. The deer led me to a private property, where an old woman was watering her plants. As I approached her, she asked me “How are you doing?”. As I literally was unaware of this phrase at the time, I replied “Not good actually, I am looking for some shops nearby but can’t find any”
She: Oh, we have a Walmart on X street. Maybe you could go there?
Me: I’m sorry, this is my first day in the US. I needed an adapter to charge my phone and laptop. I’m not sure where Walmart is.
She: Wait, let me go get my husband.
After about 2 mins, an elderly gentleman comes out into the yard.
Husband: How are you doing son? Lets go to Walmart.
They literally took me to Walmart, and I bought the things that I needed. It took me some time to search (20 mins), while they waited for me. When I was done:
ME: Thank you so much. Do you know where I could buy a SIM card here? I really need one, as I need to talk to my parents.
Husband: Lets go to the neighboring town, they have an AT&T store over there. Maybe they can help you out.
I was speechless at this point. The neighboring town was at least 10 miles away, and I heard the lady talking about something cooking in their oven. I literally didn’t have words to express how thankful I was to them. This was literally my first day in the US and these strangers went out of their way to help a guy they saw trespassing into their property.
We eventually went to the neighboring town, and I got what I was looking for. They even drove through the university campus that I was supposed to go to a few days later. It’s difficult perhaps to fully comprehend how kind they were. I hope they live fulfilling lives.”
If you’ve ever traveled alone, you know how scary it is. Sometimes you don’t even know where to begin or where to what to do. When someone that you’ve never met extends their hand to help, it can make all those fears disappear immediately. It’s incredibly powerful.
If you ever meet someone who is alone in a new place, be sure to ask if they need any information or help. Maybe they just need someone to talk to for a few minutes. That can change everything, and make their life a lot better.