Occasionally I am asked to write a piece for the adult Sunday School class that I attend. This week, the teacher asked if I would write the story of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-35. I asked myself, “If Jesus were here today, how would he tell this story? Who would the Samaritan be?” I think the Samaritan would be different depending on which culture and group of people Jesus was talking to. In the time that Jesus told this story, the Jews hated the Samaritans. My Sunday School teacher really wanted to stick to the scriptural version, so I wrote a different one for class. This is the modern day version.
I sat by my apartment window watching the city street. Rap music reverberated from the purple low-rider below, polluting the air with profanity when a young man entered the alley. He was dressed in a pair of khaki Dockers, white polo, and chocolate sport coat. He carried a brief case and had a cell phone plastered to his ear. I wheeled my chair closer to the window. “How could he be so foolish to be walking down the alley alone in this neighborhood?” I thought. “Doesn’t he know the reputation around here?”
“Hey homeboy! Whatcha doin’ in our hood?” yelled an occupant from the purple low-rider.
The gentleman in the alley gave a brief nod and kept walking. “That boy just dissed you man. You gonna let him get away wit dat?”someone yelled.
The low-rider swung into the alley, blocking the man’s way and four rough looking guys stepped out. A look of panic flashed across Mr. Dockers’ face. “Look guys. I’m not looking for any trouble,” he said.
“You should’a thought of that before you ignored my homeboy,” sneered one.
I watched helpless as fists flew in a calloused rage. The beating didn’t last long, but when it was all said and done, Mr. Dockers lay half naked and unconscious at the end of the alley. His briefcase was ripped in two at the hinges and loose documents were strewn about, some twirling their way down the street. The cell phone made its way into one of the assailant’s pockets, and the car screeched it’s way down the street to the sound of raucous laughter.
“Oh man!” I thought. “What can I do? That man needs help.” I couldn’t get down the stairs with my chair, and Mom wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. I was stuck so I sat by the window and prayed, “God watch over that man. Please send help.” I was afraid he was dead or would be if help didn’t arrive soon. The loss of blood alone was making me nervous.
A few minutes later I saw Father Nelson heading down the street. Relief washed over me. Surely, he’d help this guy. I leaned towards the open window. “Father Nelson!” I cried. “That man needs help.”
The priest stopped and looked around. “Up here!” I yelled. He shaded his eyes with his hand and looked up. “There, in the alley! That man needs help.”
Father Nelson looked ahead to the alley. He paused for a moment, taking in the horrific image before him. Then I watched in anguish as he crossed the street and continued on his way, as if he hadn’t seen the man at all, but I know he did.
“Please God! Send someone,” I prayed.
About 20 minutes passed when I saw Brother James on his afternoon jog. No one ever bothered Brother James. He was 6 foot 5 and had been a linebacker for the local university in his college days. He was on staff as a youth pastor at the church down the street. “Surely he’ll help,” I thought. I was going to yell to get his attention, but knew it would do no use when I saw the I-pod strapped to his arm. He was coming down the same side of the street and would have to pass right by Mr. Dockers, but as he neared the alley, he stopped. He quickly glanced over each shoulder, and then jogged across the street continuing on his way.
My heart sunk. “Would someone help this guy?” I felt so helpless stuck in this chair watching as this man lay there, ignored.
Then I saw Jorge. I knew he wouldn’t help. He was an illegal, living in the abandoned building across the street, a squatter. Landowners hated guys like him and the INS had rounded up several squatters just last week. If Jorge helped this guy, he’d run the risk of being deported. But there he was kneeling by Mr. Dockers side. He slipped off his jacket and wrapped it around the guy, covering his nakedness. Then, he lifted Mr. Dockers over his shoulder and started walking down the street with him. He headed north and turned left onto 42nd street. I figured he was going to the clinic, but wondered how he would make it there since he would have to carry this man another fifteen blocks.
The next day mom brought the paper home from work. There on the front cover of the Living section was a picture of Mr. Dockers with his head bandaged. The headline read, “Unidentified Guardian Angel Saves Man’s Life.” The article went on to say that an unidentified man brought Samuel Tanner into the 42nd street clinic yesterday afternoon. Mr. Tanner explained how he had been beaten and left for dead in an alley. “Some guy carried me over his shoulder all the way to the clinic,” said Tanner. “I wish I knew who he was because I’d like to thank him for saving my life.”
Clinic workers said Tanner is lucky to be alive. “His blood pressure had dropped considerably and he was in shock when he came in.”
“Some Hispanic guy just sat Tanners on a chair and handed me $500 in cash. He explained in broken English that the patient had been found in an alley. When I asked him his name he just said amigo and walked out the front door,” said Liz Matheson the clinic receptionist. “That guy’s a hero. Too bad there weren’t more of them around.”