PAGE THREE Random Acts

Looking Out for Each Other in D.C.

A celebration at Ben's Chili Bowl was followed by frustration, but a stranger got everybody smiling again.
A celebration at Ben's Chili Bowl was followed by frustration, but a stranger got everybody smiling again. (By Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post)
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The expression "Mean Streets" has been used to describe the byways of New York City and those in many other cities where urban apathy and angst rule the roads. Here are two examples of the Kind Streets of Washington.

My daughter, grandson and I had just left Ben's Chili Bowl after a celebration. My grandson's Pop Warner football team had won a championship game on Cardozo High School's beautiful field. After stuffing ourselves with chili cheese fries, cheeseburgers and hot dogs, we were headed home.

Then, as we turned the corner at the Florida Avenue Grill, we hit the curb and the tire went flat. We made it around the corner to a gas station on V Street and started to change the tire. Then my grandson closed the car door on his thumb. So there I was with one hysterical, bleeding child and an angry daughter trying to get the spare out of the trunk (oh, did I mention that I had just gotten out of the hospital three weeks earlier and was still stapled up and recuperating?), when a car backed up and the window came down.

"Do you need help?" a male voice inquired. Out of the shiny car came a gentleman on crutches! He opened his trunk, pulled out a hydraulic jack and lug remover, then dropped his crutches to the ground and got to work. In less than 15 minutes, he had the busted tire off and the spare on. Our Knight in Shining Armor would not accept any form of payment for his help. He said he helps women in distress and he only wanted some water. So we bought him a bottle of water, and off he went into the night. We only got his first name, Darrin. Chivalry still lives in Washington.

-- Johniece L. Brooks, Washington

Finding a Way

My husband and I were on our way to Washington Hospital Center for an angiogram to help determine whether his recent chest pains were related to his heart. Needless to say, we were both quite anxious about the procedure and its results.

Unfamiliar with Washington, we were hopelessly lost somewhere on Georgia Avenue by 7 a.m. The clock was ticking; we had no idea which way to turn; and we were both getting increasingly anxious. We asked at least six or seven people and stopped at two gas stations for directions with no success. By 7:15, we were frustrated and feeling rather hopeless.

We stopped at a red light, next to a young lady in a silver-gray car. She gave us directions and then, realizing our anxiety, she told us to follow her. We followed her car for 20 minutes until she got us to the front door of the hospital, where she waved and drove off.

If she had not offered to lead us to the hospital, I am certain we would have never made our destination. Her act of kindness allowed my husband to get his angiogram done on time and obtain the treatment he needed. I hope she realizes the depth of our appreciation for her kindness.

-- Azar Modjtabai, Darnestown

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