Sunday, April 20, 2008

wonderfully good neighbor

This past Saturday afternoon in Colmar Manor (northeast of DC, in Prince George County, just over the DC line) I was trying to figure out how I had gone wrong on my way to the National Arboretum. The woman in the glass-enclosed cashier booth at the gas station didn't sell maps, but she passed under the window a map that she had in the booth. Unfortunately, it wasn't detailed enough to help.

So I asked a woman walking up to pay for gas if she knew how to get to the National Arboretum. She gave me detailed directions. They didn't involve streets I knew, had been on, or remembered from the directions I had (poorly) read to get to the Arboretum. I told her that I was following directions and figured I had just made one wrong turn. I asked her if she was sure she knew where the National Arboretum was. She told me that she had lived in the area for twenty years and knew where the National Arboretum is. She wasn't even offended by my question.

She asked if would I like her to lead me there. She explained that she was going home to sleep, because she had to work that evening, and that she had time to take me there. I felt very bad. I said that I didn't want to take away from the time she had to sleep. She said that she wasn't going to be able to go to sleep until her sons came home from work, so she had time to take me there. She then led me in her car a couple miles back to the National Arboretum.

The National Arboretum was beautiful on that sunny Saturday afternoon. But not as beautiful as the tired, hard-working woman who led me there.

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