Forced into her car for shelter after several months spent living in economical hotel rooms, the downtrodden woman’s parking tickets accumulated rapidly into the hundreds of dollars — a total she couldn’t imagine paying, considering her impoverished current circumstances. Then, seeming to confirm her bad luck would, indeed, never run out, a tow truck arrived to haul the car away over the unpaid fines.
Distraught and in tears, pleading with the tow truck driver as her last remaining possessions lay strewn across the Idaho sidewalk, it seemed the woman’s situation couldn’t get worse — but someone saw what was taking place, her tears, and despair.
Without hesitation, Ted Challenger — a prominent local businessman and owner of the bars, China Blue, The Tailgate, Amsterdam Lounge, and Dirty Little Roddy’s, in downtown Boise — strode across the street to consult with the driver and see why the woman seemed so morose.
“I walked over to the tow guy, and I said, ‘Why are you towing her?’” Challenger told the Idaho Statesman.
Comfortable in life from his own lucrative business ventures, Challenger — whose abiding maxim says everyone has a story to tell — was taken aback by the relatively minor $450 in past due fines threatening to leave the woman carless.
“It just didn’t sit well in my mind,” he continued, “that they would throw her and her possessions out on the curb. I (paid) it, and she was just very grateful, and then I just went to work.”
That would have been the end of it — were it not for the woman’s entirely precarious situation prior to Challenger’s monetary intervention. In fact, he had no idea the depth of her gratitude — nor what would develop next, because of that gratitude.
But the woman, who chose to remain anonymous in the interview with the Statesman, at first couldn’t believe what had happened.
“Embarrassment fleeted across my face for a moment,” she recalled. “Here I stand, a grown woman, in the road crying and shaking. I saw there were many people now watching.”
With that one act — a gift the successful entrepreneur could easily afford — the woman again found hope she’d lost along the wayside.
“My tears turned from terror to a new emotion that I can’t describe. Joy falls short; gratitude is only the surface scratched of what I felt,” she asserted. “To have this one thing, just one thing go right for a change made the bad stuff a little better and feel like it wasn’t all for nothing.”
Unbeknownst to either party, local resident, Jason Stephens, witnessed the entire incident from a vantage point across the street, that day in July, and then posted what he’d seen to Facebook, where Mix 106 morning show host, Mike Kasper — acquaintances with Challenger for more than two decades — picked up the story.
“I felt horrible,” Stephens lamented, “she was obviously in dire straits and needed help. (It was) empowering. He walked over there without hesitation. … Ted already had his mind made up before crossing the street.”
According to his friends, the bar owner’s actions might have seemed heroic, but he’s the type to intervene and help if and when it’s necessary — in this situation, the fines needed to be paid, so Challenger paid them.
But the woman was so inspired by the generous gesture, she wrote a post to Boise Craigslist’s “Missed Connections” section to thank him publicly since she hadn’t had the chance, in part stating,
“For the past year, life has been one swift kick in the teeth after another, having lost my newborn son, my home and everything that I called familiar. Thanks to you, today my smile can remain intact. Today, I can catch my breath. Today, you have given me the opportunity to not just survive. Today, my ever waivering [sic] faith in humanity has been restored. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, a million times over… thank you!”
Despite the good samaritan story having gone viral at the end of last month, Challenger delicately dismisses the publicity, noting the stress of the woman’s predicament had been clear, and he could not just walk away.
“I guess I’m just really fortunate. I have everything I need. … If you saw the torment on her face, I don’t know how anyone would walk away.”
He added, “This is how it should be, right? I try to do good everywhere I can.”
By the very nature of news, the worst examples in humanity — crimes, disasters, disease, violence, bloodshed, war, strife — always make headlines. If it bleeds, it leads, as the old adage goes — so much so, sometimes it seems as if nothing positive or worthy of optimism ever occurs.
Every day, as this and countless other quiet examples show, people help people — without requiring a prompt to do so, and without seeking any sort of gain or recognition — and in this time of strident division and vitriol, it’s that spirit of cooperation and an extended hand that can sometimes be the other’s only hope.
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Contributed by Claire Bernish of The Daily Sheeple.