"Let's Get Together and Feel Alright"

It's a recurring dream that I have. Maybe you have it, too. In it I am trying to get somewhere—usually a church service—and I am hopelessly lost. The clock is ticking, it is passed time to be there to preach, and I am going to be seriously late. Sometimes I can actually see the steeple of my destination, but various obstacles block my path.

Well, that nightmare came true for Olympic athlete Hansle Parchment in this year's games. The Jamaican runner was headed for the finals in the men's 110-meter hurdles and got lost somewhere in the city of Tokyo. The bus that he thought was taking him to the proper venue was actually headed in the wrong direction. He wasn't paying close attention and when he realized what was happening, time was quickly running out.

Various people offered their suggestions, but he was getting frantic.

It was then that he met who he would later call a "Good Samaritan.” Trijana Stojkovic, a 25 year old who was volunteering at the games, calmly helped him to find his bearings and she gave him the taxi fare to get there. He arrived in time to warm up—and then to win the gold medal in his race.

Two days later Parchment went looking to find the young woman. When they eventually met, he said:

“I came back to pay you back and to show you something,” he said, waving the medal that was hanging around his neck. "You were essential for me to reach the final that day.” She hadn't heard and had no idea.

The two are now friends—and Stojkovic is considered a national hero in Jamaica!

This story reminded me of the time Audrey and I were in Kobe, Japan. It was in August 2012. We were a bit lost ourselves and stopped to ask a young woman on the street for directions. She didn't just point us in the right direction, which is what I would have done. She took us to the subway station, got on the train with us, and rode with us to the proper stop. Whatever agenda she had had for the afternoon took second place to helping us with ours. Nothing she was doing at the time we approached her was as important as getting us—two American strangers—to our destination. And we have never forgotten her for that. Whenever we are talking to people about our trip to Japan, we mention her.

Be someone's hero whenever you get the chance. He or she may win a gold medal because of you. And, who knows—you may win one of another kind in the process.




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