The City of Brotherly Love

This is the view from August’s hospital room window at Shriner’s Hospital Philadelphia.

It’s May 26, 2016. Greg, August, and I are in Philadelphia for August’s first surgery. Surgery happens tomorrow. We had just arrived in Philadelphia late the night before after a rough day getting there (delayed flight, rerouting to a new airport, etc, etc).We were so grateful to just be in Philadelphia. After the pre-op appointment, we had all day free, and it was our only chance to do some exploring while we were in Philadelphia.

To say we were culture shocked would be an understatement. I had never been East before, and it had been many many years since Greg had. We were shocked by how different everything was. The streets, the people, the rules of the road, everything. The Ronald McDonald House, where we stayed, was literally in the ghetto, as was Shriners Hospital where August’s surgery would take place. It was eye opening to see the poverty these people were living in. It was beyond anything I had ever seen before. Folks, there is no ghetto in Utah. Ogden doesn’t even hold a candle to this!

Being Tourists For a Minute

We decided to go downtown and see the Liberty Bell and surrounding tourist attractions. It was really great to see all these historical sites. We walked around and explored for about 2 hours, and then we decided we better get back to our car to put more money in the parking meter so we could explore some more.

We walked to the place we thought we had parked, and our car wasn’t there. How weird. We could have sworn we knew where we parked. We figured maybe we really parked a block over, so we walked around the block. Still no car. Where was it!? The adrenaline was pumping through my body as my mind raced with the possibilities. We walked around for quite awhile, hoping we were just disoriented and didn’t remember where we had parked. Finally, we went back to the place we both knew we had really parked. Still no car. In Philadelphia there are parking officers (not sure what they are really called) on each block. We found one, and asked her if she knew what happened to our car. She said that it had been towed. She explained that we had parked in a “no stopping” zone. It was in front of a little dip in the sidewalk that didn’t appear to be used for anything. I hadn’t been paying attention when we parked (Greg was driving), and Greg assumed you weren’t supposed to stop in the middle of the street (seriously driving is so different there than here). It really didn’t appear to be a place we shouldn’t park!

The parking lady told us our rental car had been taken to an impound lot about 3 miles away. She told us to call a taxi. We had never called a taxi before! We had no idea how to do this! We also didn’t know how expensive it would be. Only 3 miles? Why don’t we just walk? So that’s what we did. We walked. It was a much more treacherous adventure than we thought it would be. It was much more humid than we’re used to, and it felt hot even though the temperature was pretty moderate that day. I was wearing flip flops, which isn’t great for a long walk.

The Impound Lot

When we got to the impound lot, there was quite a long line. Greg and I had decided to try to tell them our story: We are ‘foreigners’, and our kid is having major surgery early in the morning. Please give us a break! We waited in the line for at least half an hour. There was a couple in front of us named Scott and Carly who we chatted with while in line.  

When we finally got to the front of the line, the lady wouldn’t listen to our story. She didn’t care. She was abrupt and rude and seemed so hardened. As I sat at the impound lot for awhile after this, I realized that everyone has a story. No one means to have their car towed. I’m sure she has heard everything in the book, and she just can’t listen anymore. With the cost of the fine, towing, and impound lot, we ended up having to pay over $300. To top it off, we realized that we left the proof that this was our rental car at the Ronald McDonald House, which was about a 30 minute drive. The impound lot would not let us take the car anywhere. We were stranded again. It was very discouraging. We were not feeling any sort of “brotherly love” in this city known for brotherly love. I was feeling pretty sad about how we were being treated and how the past couple days had gone.

We were exhausted, hot, sweaty, and anxious about our big day tomorrow with August’s surgery. It was late afternoon, and we really just needed to get back to the Ronald McDonald House so we could get some rest and prepare for the next day.

True Brotherly Love

Scott and Carly overheard what was happening. We were stranded and not well equipped for knowing what to do in the city, and they realized this. They had had a car towed that day too, and I’m sure they were exhausted from the experience as well. Even so, they generously offered to drive us to the Ronald McDonald House to retrieve the paperwork so we could get our car back. To drive from the impound lot to Ronald McDonald House and back to the impound lot to get the car was an hour. That’s no small sacrifice, especially for complete strangers.

This was a very touching act of kindness that we so desperately needed. It helped me remember that there is so much good in this world. We had had a really rough couple days with a very big and stressful day coming up. So many things had gone wrong. The stress, anxiety, and negativity was overshadowing everything else. This one act of kindness shone a light on things in my mind. It was a great reminder that when you really look, the positive is stronger than the negative. One act of kindness made a huge difference in how I was seeing the world around me. I was able to remember all the amazing people who were praying for us, the people who helped us get to Philadelphia, the blessing of having a world renowned surgeon working on my son, and the list goes on.

I am grateful for Scott and Carly and their example of service and love. They truly made a very stressful time brighter. It goes to show that small acts of love and service can go a long way.

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