We were happy. We had a great time at church that morning and our mood was light and joyful.
Our car window was rolled down because although it was a damp British day there was no rain, yet.
“Have you room for one more passenger” said a cheery voice.
Harold’s head and shoulders peered into the back window of our small compact car.
“Oh God” I thought to myself “….not today.” I groaned inaudibly.
In vain I tried to think of a reason to refuse but I was too weak and too polite. I could not come up with a valid thought as he opened the back door and crawled into the empty back seat, next to my 4 year old son’s car seat.
My ten year old daughter squeaked in disbelief. My husband’s lips smiled, but his eyes did not.
It was a damp day after all and it would be a kind deed to give the friendly man a ride home. His home, as we well knew, was about half a mile away from the church.
It was an agonizing trip. Harold’s bulk filled up all the available back seat space. The most problematic thing of all was that Harold had very strongly offensive body odor.
Being close to him was almost nauseating and in the close proximity of our car it was overwhelming.
I don’t believe that he had had a bath in years.
We felt sorry for him. He was intellectually challenged and he loved our family. He was always smiling and ran to greet us whenever we went to the local supermarket where he worked as a ‘cart’ boy.
I dared not take a deep breath because I felt as though I would pass out, so I exhaled a lot and smiled at him in the mirror.
“Blow out” I kept saying to myself…“Blow out”
I did not dare to look at my daughter in the back seat whom I knew was suffering.
Out of the fog of our distress I heard the childish voice of my son say,
“Where is that funny smell coming from?”
No one responded. It was all too embarrassing.
Minutes later as Harold alighted from the car he said with a laugh,
“I hope he was not talking about me.”
I could not think of an honest thing to say so I said nothing and neither did my husband.
As we drove home with the car windows fully opened and the rain coming in, I wondered if we had helped Harold. Maybe the childish honest of my son had been what was needed to make him realize he had a problem.
I could not think of a kind way to communicate such a horrible thing with Harold so I determined in my mind that the next time he needed a ride home we would just do what we did today.
I of course would just keep blowing out; long breaths out and short ones in…
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