Last night, my husband had minor surgery. (But this story isn’t about that, so don’t worry) He was scheduled in the last time slot at the surgical center, but they were running behind. So his 6pm surgical slot morphed into a 7:15 start time. By the time he finished at 8pm, we were the absolute last people left in the surgical center. I had been at the hospital with him since 3:30 that afternoon, and before I could go back to see him in recovery, I needed to drop my bag off in my car.

At 8 o’clock at night.

In an empty surgical ward.

And through a dark parking garage.

Because we were the last ones there, the staff had already locked the doors to the center and left the entire nurse’s station empty. I went for a walk around the ward, looking for someone to help me get through the doors, when I ran into Dr. Tom*.

I had met Dr. Tom only that afternoon. He stopped by my husband’s bedside to say hello, as he knows my husband through our family business. We chatted about the surgery and work for about five minutes, then he left to finish his rounds. I caught Dr. Tom as he was leaving to head home, and told him that I just needed to be let through the locked doors to go drop my bag off in my car while I was waiting for my husband to be woken up in recovery.

He immediately told me no.

No, he wouldn’t just let me through the doors.

He was going to walk with me. All the way to my car, through the parking garage, and back again.

And then he did just that.

He was respectful, courteous, professional. We chatted about his family farm. I told him that I grew up on an old apple orchard. He praised my husband’s work ethic. We made lighthearted jokes at the expense of my sometimes-intense father-in-law. I never felt uncomfortable. Or awkward. Or frightened.

A 6’3″ stranger walked me to my car, never did anything even remotely inappropriate, and walked me back just in time to be taken back to see my husband sitting up in bed in recovery. A strange man escorted me to my car and back, and I felt nothing but grateful and safe.

I almost burst into tears, readers.

Every few months for the past two years, I have been confronted by the traumatic memories of my rape. Every few months, I’ve seen brave women adopt different hashtags, exposing their darkest, deepest secrets to the world. Hoping that their vulnerability can somehow help inspire change and reveal the sickening prevalence of sexual abuse in America. They are inspiring women, and I support and believe them. But I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally ragged. I’m mentally destroyed.

And because of that I had almost forgotten that interactions such as mine and Dr. Tom’s could exist. That something innocent and pure, and performed with nothing but good intentions could still happen.

I am eternally grateful to Dr. Tom. Thank you, for just reminding me that good men exist. Men who do the right thing. Men who look at a tired, petite woman, and just see a person who needs a bit of a hand. Men who offer that hand, with no reciprocity expected.

I needed that, Dr. Thank you.

Follow up story: An hour later, I walked next to a nurse, wheeling my husband out to the entrance of the parking garage. When we got to the entrance, I saw a woman standing at the door to the stairs. “I’ll go get the car,” I said to the nurse. The woman immediately ran up to me.

“What floor are you going to?”

“Second.”

Her face was instantly a mask of relief. “Oh, thank goodness. Do you mind if I walk with you?”

“Of course!”

We walked up the stairwell together. She kind of chuckled, “I just hate parking garages at night!”

I smiled over at her, “Oh, I get it.”

She looked over at me. “My daughter’s about your age. She just had surgery.”

“Oh, no! Everything okay with her?”

We were in sight of each others’ cars at this point. She stopped and looked at me. “Just do me a favor? Pray that her antibiotics work? I’ll pray for your husband.”

I smiled at her. “Of course. Have a good night!”

“Thank you for walking with me.”

“Thank you.”

“God bless.”

Simple acts. Pure acts. But they mean so much. Just remember to be good to each other. To give the kind gesture, without expecting anything else in return. It can turn somebody’s long, hard day into a soft, good night.

Sometimes it’s nice to remember that we are all a part of the human community. That we all have the ability to look out for each other. In small, significant ways. That’s all.

*Names have been changed

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