I contacted Comcast, our cable tv and internet provider, the week before we were scheduled to move to arrange a transfer to service. (This is a story in itself, but I'll try to stick to the main topic.) They told me, among other things, that service couldn't be connected in the new place, for x-amount of time. What they didn't tell me was that in the interim, I'd continue to be charged for services I wasn't receiving... until I returned the cable modem I rent from them.So, that's that. Experience and self-interest lead me away from the old man, who drove out of the parking lot quite well, apparently, and I just kept thinking about the many older people, in this world, who probably need someone to help them out - once in a while or every single day.
Of course, this means they've been charging me for nearly a week of services they know I wasn't receiving. Anyway, I head to their local office, modem in-hand, to resolve the issue. I was hungry as heck and so was my lady, who was waiting in the truck.
When I got back outside, I saw an elderly, Black gentleman using a walker to cross the parking area verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyy slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwly.
No, really. Those of you who remember Tim Conway's super-slow-walking character on The Carol Burnett Show should have some idea of just how slowly this man was moving.
I'd guess that he was covering about a foot of ground every thirty seconds.
That's right. At any given moment, he was about twelve inches away from where he was thirty seconds, before.
When I was in line, there were two people ahead of me and maybe one person behind me. It was taking him so long to get inside that people who'd showed up minutes after he did were running around like roaches with the light on. The line was going to be SERIOUSLY long before he'd even make it to the front door (a distance of about thirty-five or forty yards).
Wanting to help, but not wanting to injure his pride, I casually asked if everything was allright and if I could do anything to help. He seemed to be saying that all was well, then changed his mind... and, between gasps, asked if I'd pay his bill, for him.
I walked over to him as he pulled his wallet out and counted about seventy dollars in cash. He said the bill was sixty-four dollars and change. I asked if he had the bill with him, but he didn't. I asked for his phone number, so that they could credit the right account. He couldn't tell me that, either. He told me his name and said that'd probably be enough. I figured he'd done this before and took his word for it.
After getting him out of the way of parking lot traffic, I took the money and ran back in the building, trying to avoid being in the very back of a very long line.
Once I made it back to the counter (and to the clerks I was glad to have had a relatively positive interaction with, earlier), I was told that there were quite a few Comcast customers with that first and last name. After running back outside, I asked the gentleman, who was JUST making it back to his vehicle, what his street address was. He responded with something I had a hard time understanding, so I asked him to spell it. He informed me that he couldn't read, which meant he couldn't spell anything for me.
I ran back inside and gave the clerk the information I had. After asking around in the lobby, we came up with a decent approximation of what he might've meant and she was able to identify his account.
She said the amount of the bill was greater than he said. She figured he must've looked at the pre-tax total. I wanted to follow his instructions and pay no more than he requested, so I told her I'd pay the eight dollars or so, taxes so he could get his change back. The clerk said she'd handle it, though, which apparently meant that she'd just let the remaining balance... remain.
After taking care of that, I thanked the ladies at the counter, wishing them an enjoyable weekend, and ran back outside. When I got to the gentleman's car, I gave him his change and told him about the remaining balance, which didn't seem to concern him that much. To be honest, he seemed to be struggling a bit.
I asked if he needed me to close his door for him, which he did. After closing his door and getting ready to walk away, I noticed his breathing was quite labored - moreso than before. He was trying to say something...
"G... G... God gon' be... good t'you."
That almost broke me the hell up. In that moment, I wanted to hug this old man, who already reminded me of my own family members. I thanked him and resisted the urge to embrace the stranger, as I walked away from his car and returned to my own.
While talking with my lady about the situation, I figured that he probably had an easier time driving than using that walker, but I wondered if anyone was taking care of this old, infirm, and illiterate gentleman.
He certainly seemed to need some assistance. I felt like I should stop there, though, because if I went too far out of my way, it could result in one of those "no good deed goes unpunished" situations, later. Basically, someone might think I'm trying to swindle this man in some way.
I hate the idea that such people are being left behind - especially when accepting help means trusting an absolute stranger with seventy dollars that he could easily run off with.
Anyway, that's been on my mind all weekend, so I thought I'd share it and see if it sparks a discussion or if anyone had their own stories to share.
While I'm talking all this yang, I really need to call my grandmother.