Backstory on “Encounter”

Yesterday I posted a piece based on an encounter I had at a Publix grocery store a few days ago.

I’d tried to explain the event in narrative form, but no matter which way I placed the words on the page I felt like I was misrepresenting the encounter. As I told one commenter, in my attempt to tell the story I came out looking either judgmental or saintly, and neither is accurate.

Let’s give it another go, shall we?

I’d met a friend for lunch at a sushi restaurant across town in Tallahassee. On my way home to Doright Manor in Havana, Florida, I stopped at Publix to purchase a few items. Normally I’d park well away from the store in order to increase my daily number of steps, but I’d hurt my back doing heaven knows what last weekend, so I found a spot on the row nearest the store.

As I got out of my car, I noticed an older model Chevrolet sporting sun faded blue paint and a cracked windshield. It was idling erratically, directly in front of the Publix entrance, and the driver had to keep revving it to keep the engine from dying. From the passenger side a woman emerged.

In her bare feet, the woman would easily have been taller than my 5’8″, and her stilettos added at least three more inches. Her sleeveless leopard print mini dress rode high on her thighs, and she tugged on the hem as she toddled towards the store.

I reached the door about the same time she did, and realized just how unstable she was on those heels.

“Careful,” I cautioned. “These floors are going to be tricky with the shoes you’re wearing.”

She nodded, and her long blonde hair fell over her eyes. “Great,” I thought. “Now she can’t see where she’s going.”

I hurried in front of the woman, at least as fast as my back would allow and suggested she borrow one of the electric scooters the store provides. She thought that was a fine idea, and I guided her to the nearest one.

After she settled into the scooter chair she looked up at me. There were tear stains marring her heavy makeup and mascara in places mascara isn’t supposed to be. Her eyes were unfocused.

“Is there anything you need?” I asked, fully prepared to give her money or contact someone who’d come pick her up.

“Would you pray for me?” She asked.

“Of course. Tell me your name,” I said, thinking she meant later when I was home saying my nightly prayers.

To my chagrin she struggled out of the scooter where she’d been relatively safe and stood, towering above me, swaying on those toothpick heels. She grasped my hands in hers and looked me straight in the eye. I was supposed to pray. Right then and there. Heaven help me.

“My name is Stacy,” she said.

I looked down to gather my thoughts, noting the not-so-subtle track marks on both arms. My words needed to be healing. Deep, even.

“Dear Heavenly Father,” I intoned. “Please forgive us our sins.”

“Hey. What’s goin’ on?” a male voice croaked behind me.

“Oh, baby, this nice lady just helped me. We’re prayin’ here.”

“That’s enough,” he said.

To me that sounded ominous. I pulled my hands out of Stacy’s grasp. “Take care,” I said, grabbing a basket for my shopping.

I left her in the hands of this man. It felt wrong, but I was really out of my depth there. As I went about my shopping I saw the two of them a couple of times at a distance. He was driving the scooter. Stacy was sitting in his lap, her head on his shoulder.

That night at home in my room I prayed for Stacy. I’d let her down. I can’t forget the feel of our hands clasped together during that aborted prayer. If I was her lifeline, I was a frayed one. I’d snapped and she’d floated away.

For all the Staceys in this world, I don’t know if prayers do any good, but that’s all I’ve got right now.

Peace, people.

Author: nananoyz

I'm a semi-retired crazy person with one husband and two cats.

24 thoughts on “Backstory on “Encounter””

      1. I know so. Kindness is the best we can offer. The woman you described fits my niece – caught up in a world of prostitution, addiction – we rescued her many times, set her up with an apartment, job, etc, but every time she returned – the incentive for change comes from within. Kindness opens the window so that we can see other opportunities.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My darling Leslie, you never let anyone down. I said to you, you had humanity when it mattered and sometimes prayers are as much as anyone has. There are people who don’t even have that where the Stacys of this world are concerned. You tried to help in a situation which you could only guess at what lay beneath. While you are pretty certain what that was, there’s oceans that we don’t. So you don’t reproach yourself. You don’t know what is round the corner for Stacy. It might be you have helped her.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Leslie……you were right in leaving ,this man is dangerous and probably armed. You were very kind with the woman who obviously was desperate for kindness and a temporary escape from her two masters….the pimp , and the drugs.

    Seeing this aspect of life is jolting…….you did well, very well

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes that one act of kindness can be what a person needs to see that they are deserving of kindness and willing to demand it from others. That one moment could be the moment she needed to convince her to look for help from someone in a position to get her the kind of help she needs. It may not, but I can say there is a very real possibility that your one moment of kindness will stick with her. You did a good thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Don’t feel bad, you tried to help, most would have kept walking and ignored the lady. It sounds as though she was in good hands with the security guy. I hope so. Keep her in your prayers and I’ll add her to mine.

    Liked by 1 person

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