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  • Writer's pictureLilly Sedaghat

The Moments We Choose to Engage

I waited on a backless bench outside the rental center, watching the sun make its way through the morning clouds. The gray concrete looked new, and only a few cars were parked in the lot.

A silver van pulled up to the curb. Your Direct Ride from Mexico to San Diego, it read on the side.

The door slid open, and people quickly emptied out. Everyone was dressed in black, all bundled up and moving with urgency. The driver walked towards me.

Va a Mexico?” he asked.

I foggily tried to adjust to Spanish.

No, señor.

He shrugged and turned away.

A single passenger remained in the van. He was an older man, probably somewhere between 60 or 70. I wondered if he was related to one of the other passengers, but when no one turned back, I realized he was alone.

His left leg hung limp as he tried to move from the window seat to the open door. He hesitated, nervously weighing the distance between the edge of the van and the curb. The driver waited on the curb, the space between them still six feet.

Neither of the two men were wearing masks. Under normal circumstances, I’d help. But I found myself hesitating.

What if helping a stranger put my family at risk? What if he got sick because of me?

I watched him struggle out of the van for a few moments before finally deciding to help.

“Here, señor.

I leaned into the van and held out my arm. He grabbed it, using it as leverage to pull himself towards the door. He felt heavy--there was no way we could do this six feet apart. The driver reached for the man’s other hand, and together, we eased him onto the curb.

The man thanked me, and I watched him limp to the entrance of the rental center, his body leaning heavily to the left. I called after him, asked if he needed more help, but without turning around, he said he was fine.


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