Can You Hear Me?

I make a phone call for someone in need.

She was an older woman, standing on the sidewalk between Alco and Osco. She looked nervous. I made eye contact with her on my way into Alco. When I came out, she was still there. But this time, she was looking right at me, obviously ready to approach me.

“What do you need?” I said, walking right up to her.

“I am deaf,” she said in the voice of a person who is obviously deaf. “Can you make a phone call for me? I will gladly pay you.”

“Sure,” I said. “But you don’t have to pay me.”

She didn’t hear me, of course. She was deaf. But she understood that I’d help.

We walked over to the pay phone and she pulled out a small folder that she opened and showed to me. She pointed to one of the two names with phone numbers on it. “This is my daughter,” she said. “I need you to call her for me. Let me talk to her, then you take the phone and listen to what she says and write it down for me.” She took out a pad and pen. I picked up the phone. “Call collect,” she advised me. “It will be easier for you.”

I made the call as she requested. A moment later, I was talking to her daughter. “I’m making this call for your mother,” I said. “She wants to talk to you and then I’ll listen to what you say and write it down.”

“Okay. Thank you.” She’d obviously done this before.

I handed the phone over and the woman talked. She didn’t stop to listen. She talked about where she was and about checking the mail. She talked about leaving a check for her daughter’s trip. She said she was fine and hoped her daughter had a good time on the trip. There was more of the same. Then she told her daughter that she’d tried for a half hour to get someone to make this call for her and that I’d finally come along and said yes. “God bless her,” she said. She told her daughter that I’d take notes and handed the phone back to me.

The daughter kept it brief. She thanked me, then gave me a few messages regarding the mail. She ended up with, “Tell her I love her. And thanks again for helping her.”

Meanwhile, the woman was attempting to put money in my pocket. I tried to dodge away, but the phone cord was too short. I said goodbye and hung up, then handed the woman the notes I’d written. She read them aloud and nodded. Then she tried again to give me money. I wouldn’t take it.

“I tried to get so many other people to help me,” she said. “They wouldn’t come near me. They must have thought I was a leper because I was deaf. Please take the money. Just for a Coke.”

I had tears in my eyes, thinking about this woman wasting 30 minutes of her day trying to get someone to make a simple phone call for her. I gave her a hug. When she was insistent about the money, I took it, then slipped it into her purse, which she’d left open just a little bit. Then I said goodbye and left her.

What is it with today’s people? Can’t they take a moment to help someone in need? Someone with a simple request that would take only a moment of time and not cost a penny? It surprises me. You’d expect people to act like that in a big city. But not in Wickenburg.

But maybe it takes a big city person to be brave enough to face someone in need.

What do you think?