Running late to meet my friend the other side of the city, I was tempted like the other motorists ahead of me to drive past the elderly lady waving frantically at the bus stop on the outskirts of Dunmurry village. I pulled up and she came to the passenger door and on opening asked “Could you give me a lift to Finaghy as it is too far for me to walk, I have been standing here for ages and no buses have come”. I said “Certainly absolutely no problem”. I felt really glad I had responded to this very frail lady’s signal to stop.
It was obvious by the conversation on the short journey down the road that the lady was totally unaware that it was a bank holiday and the Belfast City Marathon was not on her radar. She had managed to get as she called it “a rural bus” on the way up but after doing her shopping felt totally abandoned by the public transport system. She turned down my offers to drive her right to her door and got out across the road from the street where she lived. On getting out she thanked me kindly with a smile of gratitude saying “That’s your good deed done for today”.
As I drove off I was reminded of a similar happening many years ago when I worked on the Antrim Road in Belfast. As I drove to the office one morning I was stopped at the lights on the Limestone Road waiting to turn right on to the Antrim Road. Suddenly the passenger door opened and unlike this morning’s passenger without asking any questions this proverbial little old lady sat into the passenger seat and with the authority of someone of that age and gave the command:-
“I will take a lift, straight through the lights”. (This was the time of people with pistols and armalites hijacking your car by asking for a lift and she did have something under her arm!) So dumbstruck was I by her boldness that I followed her command without question not daring to mention that I was actually turning right. A side glance revealed the frailty of her years, the little brown suede ankle boots with a zip up the front dangling at the end of her spindly legs and the belt of her overcoat going round her waist twice and back through the loop on the right hand side.
Her frailty however did not reflect itself in her manner or her tongue, I might add, as she directed me to where she wanted dropped off. She too said that it was my good deed done for today but unlike the lady this morning it was more “You’ve done your duty, you are now dismissed” with an unspoken reservation to reserve the right to call on my services again in the future should I ever stop at those same traffic lights.
As she closed the passenger door, added to the relief of her departure was the realisation that the ‘weapon’ she carried under her arm was nothing more sinister than a copy of the day’s Irish News!