Unintended Consequences

I was walking down the street en route to my house. Part way there I saw a sight that, to be honest, isn’t that uncommon here. A man was lying on the side of the road, struggling to stand up. I didn’t have to get close to know his condition. He was drunker than a skunk.

I wasn’t sure how close I wanted to get. He was between me and my house, and he was lying on my side of the street. I remembered something about some other people who had once passed over on the other side. I might be mistaken, but I don’t remember them being celebrated for doing so.

As I approached, I saw he had a cut on his head. It wasn’t too bad, but it was fresh.

The man seemed to indicate he didn’t live far away. I figured the least I could do was help him get home. I told him I’d be right back. I’m not sure if he understood me, and if he did, if he believed me.

My car was parked at my house further down the street. I knew a guy—a guy who happened to be a taxi driver—that lived closer. I thought I’d ask him to pick the drunk man up and take him home. I turned around and started walking back the way I’d come. When I got to the taxi driver’s house, I knocked on his door. He came out, and I explained the situation. He shook his head.

“He’s drunk,” he said and refused flat out to take him home. “But come on. I’ll take you home.”

As he drove me to my house, we passed the drunk man on the side of the road. The taxi driver knew him. Said he was always like that. Best just let him be.

As soon as the taxi driver dropped me off at my house and headed back down the street, I opened our front gate and pulled our car out of our driveway. Probably what I should have done in the first place anyway.

I pulled up to the drunk man. Had to wake him up. I helped him get into the passenger’s seat. He did live close. He was even able to give me directions. In a few turns, I pulled up in front of his house.

“Like a yurt!” he said, pointing to his house. And I’ll be darned. His brick house was in fact circular, just like the ancient portable dwellings his ancestors had lived in—before vodka had come to the region.

“Who built it?”

He smiled.

What else would he be capable of sober?

I followed him into his house. That’s when I saw his wife. I’m no mind reader, but I didn’t need to be. She wasn’t happy to see him. There was nothing I could say to help. We didn’t exchange words.

How could I respond to the hurt etched upon her face? I couldn’t. So I didn’t. Instead I got back in my car and drove home, thinking all the way.

To this day, I don’t know if I did the right thing. What if he was an abusive drunk, and I’d just dropped the wolf off at a sheepfold? Did he have children? Would they pay for my kindness?

Maybe the taxi driver was right. Maybe he should have spent the night on the street and sobered up there. Maybe waking up in the dark, disoriented and hurt, would have served as a wake up call of sorts.

Maybe. Or maybe not. God only knows.

May God have mercy on all our good intentions.

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