Carrying a Mitzvah

The night before last, my wife and I stopped off at a gas station a few blocks from our home on the way back from some evening errands. I went inside while my wife stayed in the car with the door locked. As I came back outside, I noticed there was a woman at my wife’s side of the car talking to her through the glass. As soon as I stepped out of the gas station, she focused her attention on me rather than my wife in the car. 

“Excuse me, sir? My car is broken down a little ways over and I need a ride back to it. It’s very hot outside and I’m simply exhausted.” 

The woman certainly did appear incredibly exhausted as sweat was making her make-up run, her hair was wet, and the collar of her shirt was soaked through. She was breathing heavy and there wasn’t another car in sight. Without much hesitation, I said “Sure, hop in.” Before I had really a chance to think about it, we were off. 

“It’s just down the street a couple blocks over and under the bridge.” 

As the woman began to tell me where to go, something didn’t seem right about the situation. My mind began to race. Her car is broken down, yet she wants a ride back to it? Why was she in my neighborhood? How had she gotten there? Where she was telling me to go was becoming seedier and more ominous. More shadows loomed and I started to think about what is happening. I looked in my rear-view mirror to the backseat to now notice that the woman’s eyes were sucken and hollow with large gaps where assorted teeth used to be; features that aged the rest of her by decades. Is this a trap? How do I know that a couple able-bodied friends of hers hadn’t dropped her off in a relatively nice neighborhood to lure some unsuspecting good Samaritans back to a place less visible to be robbed? Thoughts started to race of how stupid I was for giving this woman a ride and how thoughtless I had been for not better protecting my wife.

She pointed to a dark spot a block or two away. “There. You can drop me over there.” I didn’t see any car. Quickly, I tried to come up with some excuse for dropping her off just a block short; where the street lights exposed all the details of the corner. 

“I want to take this upcoming one-way street back to where I was. Can you get out here?” 
“It’s just a block over. Over there.” 

My stomach sank. I remembered that my wife had left her cell phone at home, so I started to reach into my pocket for my cell phone to discreetly pass to her in case things went awry so she could call for help while I attempted to fend off any would-be attack; even if in vain. As I reached into my pocket, the lady called out. 

“Here is fine!” Again, I didn’t see a car for blocks and the point where she had called out was a ways before where she said she wanted to be dropped off. Before I even had a chance to grab my phone, I had stopped and the woman jumped out of my car before I could think twice. 

“Thanks!” she exclaimed and started walking ahead; beyond where I had dropped her off. 

Driving back home, I started thinking about what had just occurred. My wife commented about how the woman had a strong smell; like that of a cleaning product. I assumed so because similar products are used to make crystal meth; a popular street drug amongst the down-and-out. My mind jumped back to what had occurred. Why did she want out before she originally did? Why was she there? Why did she request to be taken back? Had some kind of attack been thwarted and if so, how? 

The next day, I relayed my story to a very good friend of mine who is more of a self-defense and weapons expert than I am; especially since I’m not one by any means. As I retold the story to my friend (a friend who has his concealed carry weapons permit and never leaves his home without a concealed firearm), it popped in my mind before he could even mention what I had been thinking: maybe she thought I was on to her scheme and thought I was reaching for a weapon. 

“Dude, that sounds sketchy as all get out. As much as I would have wanted to help, I would have thought it out more. And yeah, both you and Jill should have been armed in that situation. I’m glad it ended up it ended up not being as scary or as sketchy.” 

As I explained to him that I was only trying to do the right thing, he said that was good, but that I need to be more careful with any good works. 

“I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone is needy. I’ve watched teams of con-artists here in town swindle money and things. I’ve almost gotten attacked physically because a buddy and I were trying to help a lady. People are scary at times.” 

So, what do I do? Do I stop helping people in need? Do I say “Thanks, but I don’t know whether or not you’re a thieving crook” and let that prevent me from trying to stay true to myself, my faith, and my fellow man? Do I do what my friend recommended and arm myself? 

When I began thinking about it more, I began to realize that this really is one of the first instances in history when people have started to put their own protection solely in the hands of another entity; mainly, the police. In the past, even with police available, it wasn’t uncommon for citizens to carry protection in the form of a firearm or some other means of self-defense. Only in the past 20-50 years has the practice of carrying a weapon been stigmatized. Sadly, even in this technologically-advanced day and age, when only seconds stand between individuals and danger, the police are, at best, a phone call and a few minutes away. 

Do I really feel threatened enough or feel like I live in a rough enough neighborhood to justify carrying a firearm on my person at all time? Not necessarily. Still, the threat of danger always persists; even in the nicest of neighborhoods. In addition to the possibility of danger, the more people forget about the right to bear arms, the more that liberty is taken from them in the form of more gun regulations which mainly only act to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens because they are not practiced by the lawless. Those with intent to wreck havoc with a firearm do not pay any mind to “gun free” zone signs or weapons permits. It only tells these individuals to expect less resistance while committing their crimes. 

Am I going to start carrying a concealed weapon? Well, I’d have to start by first legally obtaining a firearm as well as the training necessary to confidently carry and use one. So, while I haven’t yet made up my mind on the issue, it is certainly on my mind; even if for no other reason than it is a right that the founders of my country fought to hold on to. If I do decide to carry a firearm one day, you won’t even know it. If that day comes, I pray to God that I never end up having to use it. 

Shalom.