Very early one morning, I was returning a rental car near LAX. The rental car lot was miles away from the airport. It was still dark and I was having trouble finding it. As I was anxiously looking about, I heard a shout from a car. I listened, looking tentatively out of my passenger-side window, and saw a man with seemingly his whole upper body sticking out of his car, shouting, “YOUR LIGHTS ARE OOOOFF!” Pointing at the back of my car, he drove off.
As I calmed down, I realized what he was saying. I took a turn as soon as I saw a side road, which was gravelly dirt. Sitting in the car, still looking around, I saw nothing and no one. I got out of my car and went to check my lights. Oh my god – I just drove 30 miles with this! How I got this far safely I had no idea!
Just when I was about to get in my car, I saw someone in a hoodie running in my direction. The road was isolated and it was still dark. Immediately I threw myself in the car and tried to locate the lock button – of course though, I could not find it! I was in a panic as he ran past my car. Phew.
Quickly I backed out of that street and on to the main road, then stopped at a convenience store for directions. The moment I stopped the car, another car zoomed in and parked just a few feet away. Out walked a black man. Immediately my heart started racing again. “Stay in the car, keep the door locked,” I said to myself. Then I heard a door slam and saw him walking toward the store. He is – just like me – going to the store, I thought as I got out of my car. What a relief.
A friendly white girl at the counter said hi. This little convenience store felt like home.
“Was that YOU…?” I heard a loud and excited voice. Turning towards it, I came face to face with him, the man I saw outside the store, the black man. “The light of your car was…” With that, I went, “Oh, was that YOU…?” “Yeah! I tried to get your attention by flashing my headlights but wasn’t successful so I had to shout so loud…”
A big smile bloomed on my face. He smiled back. I placed my hand on my heart and said, “Thank you.” “THANK YOU SO MUCH,” I said it again, to that suddenly warm, kind, beautiful, and very black face.
As I finally sat comfortably on my flight back home, peace sunk in, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just experienced, my PREJUDICE – prejudice I didn’t think I had. In daylight, there is never a problem; in darkness, I had gone so far to think the worst, just because he was black.
Like the angels that must have been on duty that night, safeguarding me for 30 miles, he was also an angel, a black angel.
At this moment as I am writing this post, I so wished that I had taken a picture with him to record that random act of kindness, and to use it as a constant reminder for myself to travel away from fear and towards love. AND, it would have brought him that much closer to your heart.
Sophia Zhou is CEO of EPM Solutions (www.epmsolutions.com/2017Website/), a consulting company specialized in Microsoft Project Portfolio Management (PPM, Office 365 PPM, Project Online and Project Server) software and PMO improvement. Serving customers including Cisco, Boeing and US Navy, EPM Solution is an ISO 2009:2008 certified and one of INC 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America.