"Stop and smell the roses," a popular adage urges urban dwellers-the very breed that is too busy, too consumed by the maelstrom of city life to notice both the sublime and the ordinary of everyday life. Like many other successful businessmen, Ronnie Tawil leads a fast-paced, frenetic existence, but unlike many of his colleagues, he still possesses the ability to pause, notice, and take in the details. This human quality made him stop in his tracks one day and observe with full attention the plight of an elderly woman who seemed to be in trouble. No one else had noticed her.
Ronnie was rushing out of his house, headed for his car and an important errand, when he saw an unfamiliar figure on his neighbor's front porch. He knew his neighbor well, and knew that this woman was not a member of his family. At first glance, she appeared to be disoriented.
He was in a hurry, but she looked as though she needed help. Ronnie backtracked to his neighbor's house and approached the woman. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"I'm lost," the elderly woman responded helplessly. "I don't know how to get back home."
"Would you like me to drive you there?" Ronnie asked.
The woman accepted his offer gratefully.
In the car, she gave him her address. After hunting for the location for a long time, Ronnie realized with a sinking heart that it didn't even exist. Sadly, it became clear to him that the woman was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's.
After mulling his options, Ronnie drove the woman to the local police station.
"You can go now, Mr. Tawil," the desk sergeant said. "We'll take over from here. Someone will surely call her soon."
Ronnie looked around dubiously at the noisy, grimy station, listened to the frenzied ringing of phones, beepers, and walkie-talkies, watched the overworked officers fielding phone calls and civilians simultaneously, and thought twice about leaving the vulnerable woman alone in this chaos.
"Would you like to eat something?" he asked her as they waited. When he brought her a yogurt and soda, she devoured the food hungrily. Who knows how long she's been lost? Ronnie wondered in sympathy.
About an hour later, a man called the station, looking for his lost mom. Ronnie was relieved that the woman would soon be safe and warm in her own home.
Exactly two days later, Ronnie's elderly mother had an emergency of her own. Imprudently, Mrs. Tawil had driven alone to a bad neighborhood to perform some chores, and, when she returned to her car, had discovered that she had accidentally locked her keys inside. It was nightfall and the street was dark. Ronnie's mother glanced anxiously at the rough-looking characters who lined the streets. She was a ready mark-easy prey.
Just then, two young men wearing tank tops and menacing expressions advanced toward her. They look like they belong to a gang, she thought nervously, and her body grew rigid with dread.
As they stopped in front of her, she got ready to hand over her purse. But instead of demanding money, one of them asked with a concerned expression: "Are you okay? You seem lost."
Flooded with relief, Mrs. Tawil explained her problem, and they promised to get her help. The two tried several gas stations until they found an attendant who was willing to come to her car and pry open its door. They waited patiently with her until the tenacious mechanic succeeded and she was safely behind the wheel.
"I don't know how I can thank you enough," she said appreciatively. "How much do I owe you?"
They shook their heads in adamant refusal. "Oh, no. We don't want money from you, lady-all we want is that you should stay safe," one of them replied. "After all, if our mothers were lost or in trouble, we'd want someone to help them out. You don't owe us a thing."