A Random Act of Kindness - Gone Wrong?
Random Acts of Kindness
There seems to be a large interest in "random acts of kindness" right now. This is a wonderful thing! I am hearing about people who are determined to perform at least one random act of kindess per day. If everyone would take the time to just smile at someone or carry an older person's groceries for them, the world can be a much better place. However, you need to use good judgement at the same time. Sometimes we let our heart lead, instead of our head and it can get us into trouble.
With so many people talking about random acts of kindess and the H.O.W. movement lately, I decided to write an article about a random act of kindness that I was involved in some years back. Anytime I hear about someone being kind and giving to someone else who is in need, I can’t help but think what happened when myself and a co-worker tried to help someone “in need” and how it may have gone very wrong. The names have been changed, to protect us!
I don’t remember exactly what year it was, somewhere in the 90s. I was working for the Department of Human Services, here in Oklahoma. I was the office clerk for the Food Stamp Department, amoung other duties. My office was near the front desk and I helped screen the clients when they came in to determine who they needed to see. I would then call their social worker up to take them back to a private office to talk to them. Many times, as a person would come to the front desk they would tell us “their story” so we could deteremine who needed to help them.
There was one social worker in particular that I worked closely with and she too had a heart a little bit bigger than she should have at times. I will call her Nancy. She was young and pretty and just like most of us when we first began to work there, we were going to really make a difference. She and I would bring our receipts from Wal-Mart or the local drug store where we had purchased over the counter medicine and give to some of the elderly clients that didn't have enough medical expenses to even get $10. 00 in food stamps. (Now don’t go tell anybody that!)
A Family in Need?
This one day in particular, a lady in her late 20's, maybe early 30's came in with a teen-age boy. She told us that her husband had just found a job as a logger in the oil field business and couldn't come in with them, but she needed to apply for assistance for the three of them. She said that they had been living in Missouri and the company that her husband worked for had let him go but not given him his last check. The boy that was with them had worked with her husband previously and was let go at the same time as her husband and that they had kind of “taken him in” and had been staying with them. Nancy and I talked to her for a little while and she showed us pictures of the home they used to own in Missouri.
Food Stamps and Gas
Mrs. P. stated that their money had run out while the husband had been looking for work and they had been living out of their truck recently and were in need of some food. The weather was getting really cold at night and they were sleeping in their truck. She said that she had used their last bit of money to buy enough gas to get into town and come into the office for help. She stated that they had applied for food stamps in Missouri but did not get them this month as they had to leave Missouri to try to find work. As per protocol, Nancy called the office in Missouri and verified that they had not received their food stamps this month and we processed emergency food stamps for them that they would receive them the same day. We also took up a little money for them from a few of our co-workers for gas so they could fill up the truck.
They Needed Blankets
Now the fact that they were sleeping in their truck and the nights were getting really cold, just wasn't going to work for Nancy and I. I just happened to have a blanket in the back of my car, which I gave to Mrs. P. and Nancy was going home to get an some extra blankets she had and bring them back. Nancy was going to meet up with Mrs. P. after work to give her the blankets. Now I didn't know that Nancy was meeting Mrs. P. after dark, or I would not have let her do that by herself.
Nancy Meets Mr. P.
When Nancy came into work the next morning, she told me that when she arrived at their designated meeting place, she recognized the truck. It was hard to mistake as it was an older model International truck, which you don’t seem much anymore. It was a faded green color and there was a mural in the back window of a bass jumping out of the water. She said as she walked up to the truck, instead of Mrs. P. stepping out, it was the husband that she had not met before. She said that is when she realized how dark it was and that there were not many other people around. She realized then, that going out here by herself may not have been a very good idea. Nancy said she handed him the blankets and he thanked her for the gas money and the blankets and just turned and got back into his truck and drove away. She said she did breathe a huge sigh of relief when he drove off, she just didn't have a good feeling about being there alone with him.
America's Most Wanted
During the next couple of weeks, Mrs. P. came back into the office to let us know that she had found a job and they had found a house to rent and how grateful they were for out help. Nancy assured her that her food stamps would continue until they were back on their feet and that if they needed anything else to let us know. Nancy and I were feeling good about helping this family and felt like they were on their way to getting back on their feet. A couple of months goes by and we don’t hear anything from Mrs. P. and we really don’t think anything about it, until one evening when Nancy is watching TV with her husband. They are watching “Americas Most Wanted”.
This segment is about a man who has kidnapped a girl from a phone both while she was on the phone with her boyfriend. It happened in a small town in a nearby state, it was late and dark. There were very few people around and as the girl is talking to her boyfriend on the phone, she is frightened when a pick up truck pulls up to the phone booth and stops. She does tell her boyfriend what the truck looks like. She describes it as an old green truck with a fish jumping out of the water in the back window. The boyfriend asks her if she wants him to come up there as he is not very far away. She tells him no, she is sure everything is OK Moments later the boyfriend hears her screaming and loud banging sounds. He yells for her over the phone but he gets no reply. He then jumps in his car and drives toward the phone booth. As he hits Main Street he spots an old green truck speeding his way. He watches it closely as it passes him and he sees his girlfriend struggling with the driver. He turns his car around as fast as he can and gives chase. All he can see is silhouettes through the mural of the fish jumping out of the water. He is driving as fast as he can go in his older car, but can’t keep up. He drives until he eventually runs his car out of gas. At this point the police are called and the story goes that they never find this girl and are looking for the truck in connection to this kidnapping.
Nancy jumps to her feet and tells her husband she know who that is! She immediately calls the number on the TV and talks to one of the volunteers on the phone. The next day she gets a call from the FBI. They set up a meeting so she can tell them what she knows about the man who was driving this truck. Nancy gives them all the details she knows about the family. However, the FBI really doesn't tell her anything they know about the case. Nancy decides to call the Missouri office of DHS and see if they had returned there and asked for assistance again. She was told yes, they did come in last month and ask for food stamps again, however there was only Mr. and Mrs. P., they teen-age boy was not with them.
The boy was also wanted for questioning in the case, but could not be found either. From what Nancy had found out, the teen-age boy was 17 at the time they came into our office and was receiving a Social Security benefit check from a deceased father. This is what they had been living on while Mr. P. was out of work. He was only eligible for this check until he was 18. He had turned 18 just a couple of months after they had come into our office. Now that he was 18, he seemed to have just disappeared. Nancy tried several times to get an update on the case from the FBI, but of course, they would tell her nothing except that they had not been located and that if she is to see or hear from them again, to immediately call them.
Remember the girl that was kidnapped? She has never been located either and the boy, did his usefullness to this family run out after he stopped being a source of income? Remember those blankets that Nancy and I gave to this family? What do you think they did with those blankets? Could they have wrapped two bodies in those two blankets and buried them out in the woods somewhere? Nancy and I wonder this every time we think about this family. How close did Nancy come to being kidnapped by this man and possibly wrapped up in her own blanket!
As far as we know, this case has never been solved. We don’t know for a fact that Mr. P. is the one who kidnapped the girl from the phone booth. We don’t know what happened to the teen-age boy. Did we perform a random act of kindess to a family in need, or did we aid and abed a kidnapper and possibly a murderer? Could this have been a random act of kindness gone wrong? It gives me chills to think about it!
Tell Me What You Think
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