I only wish I'd gotten her name.
Monday, while taking a pitstop at a 7-Eleven after running errands in Strasburg, Virginia, this wonderful woman walked in the store and shouted, "Does anyone know how to get to Ohio?!"
I approached, offered to help, and I confess her personality had me laughing long after we said goodbye.
The delightful woman is from somewhere near Cleveland and she'd been driving since very early morning from Rocky Mount, N.C. But she had no GPS and admitted to being directionally challenged.
Last weekend she wanted to travel to see a gospel singer she knew was performing near there, but when no one would go along, she hopped in the car and took a solo road trip.
Gotta love that spunk!
The Woman from Cleveland and I visited in the parking lot for quite a while and I showed her the route on my phone. As I wrote down some good-old fashioned directions on a piece of scrap paper, several curious people watched and seemed to wonder — why is an African-American woman with a gold tooth and red/pink hair laughing with a white guy in a blue button-down shirt?
When we each took a selfie on our phones, the onlookers appeared even more puzzled.
She asked if I had time to go a bit out of my way to help get her through the first few steps of the directions.
Who could say no to this woman?
Later at a stop light before making my U-turn to head home, I ran up to her window to check on her a final time.
She smiled and thanked me profusely.
When the light turned green, she pulled away and waved out her window until I couldn't see her anymore.
As I drove the other way, I marveled at the memory.
The Woman from Cleveland couldn't have looked, talked or acted more differently, but we had the important things in common — love of God and of one another.
She didn't care if I was purple, red, white or striped and I didn't care if she was yellow, orange, black or covered in polkadots.
Later I found myself praying that the Woman from Cleveland would arrive safely home.
So, why did the moment mean something to me? I think my friend reminded me that in a divided world where stories of racism and hate get all the headlines, it's still possible for strangers with different skin color and backgrounds to forge friendships and build trust.
In fact, what happened to us isn't newsworthy at all, is it? It takes place every single day in this country.
But those stories of love aren't nearly as interesting as hate, protests and riots, are they?
Consider this — every day in America there are many more instances of building relationships than burning neighborhoods, but you'd never believe that by the headlines.
What a shame.
Obviously I don't know if the Woman from Cleveland will ever see this message. I can only hope.
But if she does, I'd want her to know that I'm sorry for not getting her name.
Of course, I'd also want to say "thank you" for asking for help, for accepting it, and for blessing me with a much needed reminder.
In the meantime, if you happen to see the woman from Cleveland somewhere, will you please tell her that her friend Jason from Virginia said hello?
Also, if you could, please mention that he hopes she made it home safely.
Maybe add that he said a little prayer for her.
But most importantly, please tell her it was an honor.