Helping hands and encouragement to reach out



By Jessica Tanner
PREVIEW Columnist

After a full day’s work, I forced my groggy brain and tired body into a local supply store. I grabbed a cart near the registers and then wove my way to the feed room in the back. For a second, I stood next to several piles of 50-pound bags. Which ones were on sale and which were the kind of food I needed for my flock of chickens and turkeys? In fine print, I found the answers I sought.

Bending my knees, I hefted one bag, then another and another onto my cart. The thump of each bag on the metal cart echoed in the big room.

Next, with my stick-thin arms, I pushed my heavy cart to the cash register. Seeing the clerk behind the counter filled me with a small rush of energy. Beyond her waited my car and a short trip home to a cool drink and a rest.

I paid the clerk for the birdbrain food.

She asked if I’d like a hand with loading the bags.

I waved her off. I could handle three 50-pound feed sacks. At least I thought I could until I reached my car and opened the back. Two feet between the ground and the back of the vehicle wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t ground level either. I heaved the first bag inside and watched the springs sag.

“Would you like a hand?”

My jaw dropped and my eyes widened.

A mustached man with twinkling blue eyes, a low-pitched drawl and a wide-brimmed fishing cap leaned around the side of my car. He picked up a feed sack.

“Uh, sure,” I think I said. My brain soared with the idea of possibly meeting one of my favorite actors in the small parking lot of the local store.

He tossed the third and final bag into the back of my vehicle. “Hope you have a good evening.”

“Thank you.” My nerves buzzed.

He climbed into a Jeep. His fishing pole, secured to the tailgate, waved as he drove away.

A few days later, I bumped into the lookalike at the post office.

He waved.

My tongue glued itself to the roof of my mouth. I managed to shake my hand in his direction. I should have asked his name and thanked him again for helping me on a day when my energy failed me. He may have enjoyed me mentioning how much he reminded me of Sam Elliot.

Instead, he is stuck in my memory as a much appreciated pair of helping hands. His kindness will always make me smile and encourage me to reach out to others when I see them sagging after a hard day.

Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Ignatius Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition).

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