Last night I was called to duty shortly before the zero hour. I had just positioned myself perfectly in bed, ready for a good night, when the call came.
As I headed to the office, I exited the freeway, and at the traffic light, there was a vehicle stranded. Hood up. People seemingly distressed.
1. I grew up in the mecca of people on the street hustling for money (border town), whether their stories were real or not, odds were not good. We rarely gave out money freely, though we were always happy to give a meal and/or a day's work for "earned money."
2. I'm not too keen on people employing terms like, "I come to you in the name of Jesus!" I'm not even keen on athletes pointing to the sky when they have accomplished a fine deed on the field. Granted, I'm glad an athlete displays faith, I just don't think they need to credit the Lord for a double to deep center field. Pacquiao (boxer) is a devoted man of faith, and prays very boldly in his corner to begin/end a fight, but he didn't point to the sky when he mauled Oscar De La Hoya to retirement.
So, it was a couple -- man and lady -- stranded. It was not the man who came rushing to me at the red light, proclaiming, "I come to you in the name of the Lord! Is there any Christian who will help us?" It was the lady. Not only did she rush to my door, but she was consumed with a cigarette of choice, exhaling the Lord's name, along with the remnants of her "fag" (see English slang word for a smoke).
In a guarded manner, I rolled down the window. For some reason, after midnight, this red light will not change. I've often thought somebody's booby-trapped it for lonesome drivers at night. Anyhow, though she's coming in the name of Jesus, she might also be packing heat. I had no clear view of the man in the vehicle. For all I knew, I might be about to meet the Lord at the hand of these late night evangelists.
I was dressed in a suit and tie. Yes, we still make house calls in full suit. On my windshield was my Garmin, where I had input the address I was headed. My vehicle is nearly new, and my disposition is usually gentle.
In this woman's view, there should be no reason I cannot help her.
Red light continues to hold firm, and the same Jesus in whose name her gait announced, is the one I implored for a green light. Wonder how He sees these prayers/petitions?
But, I don't carry much cash, if any at all. I was in a hurry, as my destination was not close.
"Sir, I'm not going to hurt you. In the name of Jesus, we need help. We're supposed to be at Cook's Hospital, but we're in the wrong one."
Smoke comes out of her nose and mouth, and while usually this would have angered me enough to close the window (I don't care if you smoke, just don't blow it in face), I actually didn't mind it this time, in the face of this horrible virus. I figured this was the one time toxic fumes actually benefited my close-range contact with the evangelic lady.
Red light holding on like a champ.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry..."
"But we need your help. We just need some gas money to get to Cook's in Dallas! Please, is there any Christian love anymore!"
More smoke. Light seems to shine a brighter hue of red.
"Please sir, lend us a Christian hand!"
"Ma'am (now irritated my voice was) I am a mortician. On call. On the way to respond to a death! I don't have any cash. I'm sorry."
"OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN! OH DEAR GOD!"
She backed up and had words with her man, who never made a showing to my door. I'm sure the announcement of my professional career path shocked her enough to cease her request. Finally another vehicle approaches. And, just as I was about to run this light and get on with my evening, er morning, the light shines green.
I'll never know what the real story with these people was. I suspect they ran out of gas and didn't have a dime to their name -- for gas anyway. As my associate and I were returning on this path about 10 minutes later in the company vehicle, I saw the same scene, this time from the other side of the freeway. A large truck was stuck on the eternal red light, but there was an exchange of some sort between the driver and -- this time -- the man.
I guess I wasn't Christian enough. Or, I just plain didn't buy their story. Or, I didn't have any cash. One thing is for sure. That I'm aware of, there is no other Cook Children's Hospital, certainly not in Dallas. They're not as cool as us Fort Worth-ians.
For now I'm just glad I wasn't a victim of the Midnight Evangelists, who might have been violent and/or trying to jack my car. I'm always left with a hint of guilt, wondering if someone really needed help.
The feeling quickly dissipated. By the end of the night, we had helped another family, who lost a loved one. We traveled a distance, putting ourselves at the mercy of the night's mysteries. And though my associate and I didn't audibly announce we were there in the name of Jesus, we are men of faith and hope for the best.