“I don’t suppose you have any hard candy?”
In this reverse scenario of strangers and candy, I was caught flat. It was a beautiful day, so the dog and I were out walking. Tired of walking in circles around the subdivision, I drove to the entrance of a nearby greenway. The pup, Zoey, was hopping excitedly as I stashed all but my keys and phone in the car. She pranced along in front of me as we approached the crosswalk. As we waited for the go sign, a tall man joined us, breathing hard. Once we crossed, he leaned heavily on the greenway sign. That’s when he turned to me to ask about the candy.
When my children were younger, I carried “emergency” lollipops in my purse for bribes, distractions and comfort. But that day, when a stranger asked me for candy, the answer was no.
“Gosh, all I’ve got are my keys and phone,” I said. “Are you diabetic? Can I call someone for you?”
He nodded, confirming his diabetes, but said, “That’s OK” to the offer of a call. “My car is at the end of this section. I’ll make it,” he said. He walked quickly away on the forested path.
I didn’t like it. He didn’t look well. I reversed my steps to the car. Could there still be a vintage lollipop in my purse? I dumped the contents out completely. No lollipops, but there was the forgotten bag of M&Ms I bought on impulse at the airport when traveling the week before.
Zoey and I re-crossed the street and jogged after the gentleman. As we went around a curve, I spotted him well ahead of me.
“Sir! Sir! I found some!” I yelled, grabbing the attention of other walkers on the trail. He heard me, turned and paused until we reached him. “It’s not hard candy, but will it help?”
His hands shook as he tore open the package, spilling about a third of the candy-coated chocolates in trying to get them to his mouth. By then, other people had gathered and encouraged him to sit down. He was terribly embarrassed, but he let us fuss over him. I pocketed the dropped candy (dogs and chocolate do not mix) while we discussed what we could do for this fellow who was obviously not going to make it to his car or even back to the road. A cyclist stopped, heard the news and offered to race ahead to find assistance. Several walkers decided to stay with him until help came. Other walkers quick-marched off to get orange juice from the closest convenience store.
Warmed by the wonderful display of community spirit, Zoey and I continued our walk through the mixed pine forest, the scent of honeysuckle tickling our noses. My thoughts lingered on the lucky or fated chance that I had those M&Ms, and how kind strangers can be when we rally together. Not long later, a golf cart passed me. In the passenger seat was our new friend, who waved and called his thanks.
In all the excitement, I never even got his name. But friends, when I got home, I put a couple of pieces of hard candy back in my purse. You never know when they might be useful for making a friend, comforting a sorrow or even saving a life.