Good Samaritan


Niki Tehranchi
by Niki Tehranchi

On my last blog, I talked about the two good Samaritans who helped me out in a moment of need.  As usual, talking about the present opened up a dusty door to an old memory of another good Samaritan, long, long ago. 

I am 4 or 5, hand in hand with my mother, standing at a bus stop for what seems like hours.  My legs and feet ache.  I am hungry and cold.  It is raining hard, a real thunderstorm that took us by surprise, completely unprepared.  The sky is so dark, darker and more ominous than we remember the evenings to be in this place.  Though I am too young to decipher it, I do sense the desperation and anxiety of my mother, who is slowly starting to believe the bus will not come. 

This is the era before cell phones, blackberry, Internet.  The best we can hope for at this point is smoke signals a la Native-Americans or courier pigeons as favored by the Lord of the Manor but even that won't work in this weather.  To add to our sense of isolation, we are newly arrived immigrants in this country.  This small town we have moved to seems huge to us.  Its usually sunny, warm climate does nothing to alleviate the cold shivers that run down our spine at finding ourseves lost in this foreign, unfriendly place.  Where others see sun and fun, we only see solitude and fear.  In the midst of this awful downpour, the streets are even more deserted than usual.  That's it.  We are stranded.  No one will come for our help. 

Here we are alone.  Truly alone. We stand out like sore thumbs, so obviously clumsy and awkward in our new surroundings where we are finding it so difficult to adapt.  We are met with eyes filled with suspicion and contempt.  The few locals who deign speak to my mother and I are eager to find out when we will go back home.  Home. My mother has never felt so sharply the pain of losing her home, where she was surrounded by her big family, numerous friends, warm neighbors, and friendly acquaintances who, after chatting for a few minutes, always managed to find a family or friend connection.  Everyone seemed to be separated by 2 or 3 degrees only, never mind 6.  Here we are separated from everyone else by whole centuries, by gigantic oceans, by a deep and endless abyss. 

Back to the bus stop and the rain.  My mother and I are slowly resigning ourselves to spending the night on that bus bench.  Until, like a mirage, he appears.

His name was Gerard.  I don't remember his face, what he was wearing, the color or model of the car that he offered us refuge in, what we talked about during the car ride or even if we talked at all.  All I remember is he deposited us about an hour later on our doorstep, only to disappear back in the rain as mysteriously as he had appeared.  All my mother and I remember about him is his name.

For years later, my mom and I would mention his name often.  It was an inside joke that only the two of us could truly savour.  As I grew older, we would continue on our excursions in the many cities that hosted us, sometimes as new residents, other times as merry travelers.  And whenever the bus or train or subway was a little late, or we were confronted with the whims of Mother Nature, whenever we lost our way despite the map, whenever things would not go according to plan, we always summoned his name and it would inevitably pull us out of our fearful moods and give us hope again that everything would end up all right, like a powerful and magic mantra.  And everything was all right.

Thirty years later, I have lived and traveled in so many cities, studied at so many schools, shopped at so many neighborhood stores, partied at so many nightclubs, jogged in so many paths, worked in so many offices, and all the people I came across, the many friends, teachers, acquaintances, colleagues, bosses, lovers and haters, they all kind of blur together.  But I will always remember: Gerard.  Wherever you are, I want you to know that the single act of kindess you made towards us, which you probably forgot yourself long ago, meant a world to my mother and I.  And that we have never ceased to thank you in our hearts and out loud, for years afterwards.  And even now, I want to thank you again: A thousand Mercis to you, wherever you are. 

And you, Dear Reader, think to yourself, when is the last time you acted as a good Samaritan?


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more from Niki Tehranchi

Indeed many times, perhaps most, is better to leave them alone

by Anonymouse on

Come to think of it, I've been bitten by the critical responses I've received in response to my "trying to help out" that I'm doing less and less of it to those I know.  In fact, I'm down to zero unless they ask for it and I make sure they know they're asking me!

It is just not worthed.  You spend so much time and energy and end up being blamed for their own failures, depite the help.

It is probably better to just help strangers who you don't need to see again!

Everything is sacred


I tried to be a good Samaritan

by erooni on

I helped an Iranian woman who was living with her 2 young daughters whose fence was down because of hurricane but instead of thanking me told me I did not ask for your help.

Niki Tehranchi

My Santo Domingo

by Niki Tehranchi on

was Italy where I vacationed a few times when I was a teenager.  The men there were as gross as you describe from your experience in the Dominican Republic Rosie.  I have vacationed a few times by myself too and as exhilirating as it can be, it could get lonely and sometimes not too pleasant.  But I am glad the memory of the good Samaritan stuck, hopefully more than all the negative ones.

Anonymouse jan, like you, I have helped a lot of friends and family.  Sometimes to a fault.  It most often than not backfires on me.  You know that old agdage, familiarity breeds contempt.  It took me a long time to finally realize that there is such a thing as being "too" helpful and that leads the very people you are trying to help to resent you.  Maybe that's what magic about being a good Samaritan.  That it's just a short and sweet connection, ending as quickly as it began, but it can have a lifetime of positive impact on you.


No, because they were obnoxious.

by Rosie. on

I only liked obnoxious men when I was young. I developed an aversion to them later on.

Except for most recently. I liked an obnoxious one an awful lot for an awfully long time.

One of the most obnoxious people I ever met in my enitre life.

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

Rosie, did you or didn't you while @ DR?

by Everybody Loves Somebody ... on

Incidentally, you should take a trip to Qom!


I went to the Dominican Republic alone in 1995

by Rosie. on

for vacation when I was your age. I always liked to travel alone. I started in Santo Domingo, the capital.  And I had had very pleasant experiences with Dominicans in New York so I didn't realize that women there really didn't go out much alone and that the men did whatever they wanted and were very predatory. So the women and girls tended to go out in pairs or small groups or of course in couples with boyfriends.

And I'm bilingual English/Spanish and very gregarious and so I'd have no one to talk to except for men alone who'd strike up conversatons with me. Dominicans are a chatty, outgoing, carefree, bunch. And I was very careful about who I talked to. I only chose the ones who seemed very decent and respectful. But it didn't matter. Every single time, whether they were 18 or 80, illiterate or professonal, single or married, at beach. park, or restaurant, at some point when I thought I'd found a friend for at least a pleasant afternoon, every single one would put the moves on me. And I'd have to go. One time I took a ride on a scooter with one and he took me somewhere where he almost accosted me. In a kind of playful way but really an accosting. So I was lonely. And so sick and tired of all the crap.

The Dominican Republic is a 'mulato' country, mixed African, Spanish and Taino Indian, with very few real whites or blacks (and no real pure Indians). And they pride themselves on not being racist over there. ut a Dominican friend, a professional in New York and a classic 'mulato', once told me: En Santo Domingo (because that's what they call the whole country, Santo Domingo) we  have a joke: Everybody loves all their children the same, but they love the white ones more.

And there's also a very small Haitian immigrant minority which has endured bad discrimination and even a massacre or two at one point. And those are black, some black as night, and they're very looked down on. And so these lovely mulato men who'd feign friendship with me would tell me, before they wound up grabbing me or just propositioning me, or even semi-accosting me, that I should be very careful of the Hatians, they're very dangerous, And don't talk to the dark blacks, they're all Haitian. And god knows what terrible havoc they'd wreak on me.

One day I decided I'd like to go to the 'Ciudad universitaria' where I hoped I could at least be left alone and  maybe even make a friend. Preferably a girl friend. And I had a map and it looked like the university was very close, and buses in Santo Domingo weren't exactly state of the art, so I decided to walk. But in actual fact it turned out to be several miles away, in the heat along a boring, unattractive street.

And the way just kept getting longer and longer, so I stopped on a corner and stood there looking at my map, tired and upset, and a few people came over in couples, and told me, oh that's very far, you can't walk there, but no bus comes here. So what  to do? They had no answers. And then this really big, muscular, virile, very, very dark black guy maybe mid twenties comes up on a scooter and asks what's the matter, with a Hatian creole accent. And I tell him que quiero ir a la ciudad universitaria pero yo no sabia que quedaba tan lejos, and he says hop on I'll take you there.

And the people on the corner with me look at him with great trepidation which they desperately telegraph to me. But I figure well it's a busy road in broad daylight, he can't get like that other guy, so I get on the scooter.

And I put my arms around him and you know how it is, he'll feel my breasts and thighs and whatnot. But he doesn't say a single word, not one, the whole time. Except for hold on tight. Hatians can be quite reticent. And when we get to the entrance of the campus, of University City, and he stops and I get off and thank him, just when I'm about to turn around, he looks me in the eyes and very sternly says to me:

Don't trust any man who talks to you in Santo Domingo. All every single one will do is try to have sex with you. 


I've been a good samaritan on occasions but not often enough

by Anonymouse on

Helping a mother and child is much easier than helping a thick mustached dude seeking help!  Although, the guy can use a help too.

In one occasion someone helped us in pouring rain when we were lost in our hike trail and out in the open and gave us a ride to our car.

I've helped out with people I know and at the moment can't remember helping a stranger, but I think I have done it at least once or twice ;-)

Everything is sacred