Bad Samaritan

In June 2010, I made a stop in Boston to meet a friend for lunch. We had planned to eat at a swanky bistro with a view of the Atlantic and, in the distance, planes soaring into the sky from Logan Airport.

It was a day illuminated by summer sunshine, a Friday of loosened ties and rolled-up sleeves. Boston Common felt like a college campus.

Driving to pick up my friend, I quickly got lost in gridlock. I was circling Boston’s streets, fumbling to read the directions on my Blackberry, looking up and slamming the brakes.

Approaching one intersection for the second or third time, I caught sight of something off to my right. It was a wheelchair. Next to it was a man lying on the ground. I was alarmed. Had he fallen off? Was anyone helping him? Was he hurt? Just a few yards ahead, on the right, I saw an alleyway. Should I turn in?

I ticked through these questions as I waited for the light to change, glancing from it to the man on the ground. The light turned. I looked up, saw green, and drove. Someone will help him, I thought.

As I accelerated beyond the intersection, I glanced into my rearview mirror. I watched someone stride toward the man and the wheelchair and, with perfect grace, sidestep both.

Oh my God, I thought, as I drove further. ...

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About the Author

Matt Emerson is the director of admissions and instructor of theology at Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert, California.