I realize that the topic discussed below has nothing to do with running. Or with eating healthy. However, it was a surprising experience for me and something I cannot get off my mind. So, because I am thinking about it, I am going to write about it.
On Saturday night when Dan, Abby, Ina, and I were headed to the hockey game, Dan noticed we needed to stop for gas. There was a lot of snow on the roads, so we took a back-way to the gas station. This was my first time entering the neighborhood behind our favorite Quick Trip. I had seen it many times from the highway, but never came closer than that. The houses, for the most part, were small and run down. I saw a church and a school I didn't know existed. I didn't even know what town we were technically in. Just as I was getting ready to ask Dan what school district the elementry school belonged to I heard him gasp.
I turned my head to follow his line of vision and could not believe what I saw. A little girl, two, maybe three years old, was running down the middle of the road. That fact alone would be bad. The fact that it was a very cold, snowy Febuary day, made it worse. The fact that this little girl was wearing only a small pair of underwear, made it absolutely, gut-wrenching, sickening. She had long dark hair that looked like she had just got out of bed, except it was almost time for the sun to set. She had tan skin, and still plenty of baby fat. Her little bare feet were skuttling along the pavement. There was a worried look on her face.
Running in front of her was a little boy. He was a few years older. Skinnier. Paler. He was fortunate enough to be wearing pajama pants. However, he also had barefeet and no shirt on.
My heart sank as I stared at them in disbelief, literally not believeing my eyes.
A truck coming from the opposite direction stopped in front of them. At first I thought that the driver knew the children, but just as the children reached it, they turned the corner.
Within seconds of seeing this I grabbed the door handle. Locked. As I was yelling, "let me out" Dan had the car in park and pressed unlock.
By that time the kids were 30 yards ahead of me, still running their hearts out. "Hi!" I yelled.
Nothing. They kept on running.
"Helllooo!" I yelled as I ran after them.
The little boy turned his head but didn't stop.
"Hi! Please stop. My name is Racheal. I'm nice."
The little boy slowed down and finally stopped, but the girl's little feet kept on moving.
"What are you doing outside?" I asked.
"We can't find our dog. We lost him." By this time the little girl had stopped and was nodding her head in agreement.
"Oh." I didn't really know how to respond. What I wanted to do was open the door to our warm car and tell them to jump in. "Are you doing home now?"
The door of a house close to where they stood opened and a teenage girl stepped outside and screamed, "Get in here right now!"
The kids didn't give me a second look as they ran inside the house. The door shut.
I stayed outside and stared at that door for a few seconds while Dan drove up to where I stood. When I got in the car he was giving the 911 operator the address of the house. The operator assured us that they would send someone soon to the house.
Dan drove to the gas station. As he was pumping the gas, I couldn't get those poor children off my mind. I couldn't stop asking myself if we did the right thing.
Was calling 911 and driving away enough? What if those kids needed more help? Will the police officer do enough?
Was calling 911 too much? What if the parents thought the kids were taking a nap and they snuck out of the house? Lord knows I was pretty sneaky with my parents.
My biggest fear is that the police officer did come to the house, give the parents a warning, and leave the children to wrath of the parents who didn't want 911 called on them. That they would be punished not just for going outside without clothes on, but for getting their parents in trouble.
I pray we did the right thing.
What would you have done?