“When There Was No Good Samaritan,” Liahona, October 2017
“Stay calm, ma’am.”
I moved the phone away from my ear and vomited onto the sidewalk. The pain in my abdomen intensified as I fell to my knees, tears in my eyes.
I could distantly hear the operator’s voice. “Ma’am? Ma’am, are you still there?”
I raised the phone back up to my ear. “Yeah, yeah, I’m here.”
“I’m sending an ambulance to your location,” the operator said. “Is there anyone with you who could flag it down?”
I looked up. There were several people passing me on the street. They all carefully sidestepped the mess I had just made and kept moving toward the train station. Not one of them made eye contact with me.
“No,” I said, breaking into heaving sobs as more pain washed over me. “There’s no one.”
My mind flashed to the day before. I had walked down the same street on my way home from work. My schedule was tight—it took 15 minutes to walk to the train station and the train left in 16. If I was late, I would have to wait 30 minutes more for the next one to arrive. As I walked, there was an elderly woman in a wheelchair. She was homeless—her hair was unkempt, her clothes were dirty, and all her possessions were strapped to the back of her chair. She was struggling to move her wheelchair up the inclining road.
I had checked my watch—14 minutes until the train left—and I decided there simply wasn’t time to stop and help her. So, I had walked past the woman, looking down at my phone so I wouldn’t have to meet her eyes.
Now, as I was vomiting on the side of the road, my abdomen flaring with pain, I was met with the same hesitation and reluctance that I had shown the woman the day before. People passed me by because, like me, they all had a train to catch. Just as the woman yesterday had pushed her chair up the road unaided, there was no good Samaritan to help me either.
But why? Why hadn’t I helped her? I was a member of the Church, a disciple of Jesus Christ. I try to follow the Savior’s example. I try to magnify my calling. I volunteer in the community. So, why had I passed by this woman in need?
Because it was inconvenient. I’d had things to do—important things. I had a train to catch, a husband to get home to, and responsibilities to take care of.
But now I longed for someone, anyone, to pause their busy schedule and miss their train to assist me. I needed a good Samaritan, and there wasn’t one.
Ten minutes later, the red and blue lights of the ambulance came into view. I couldn’t wave them down—I was in too much pain—but they found me quickly enough. I was loaded onto a stretcher, and a few hours later, I was diagnosed with a ruptured ovarian cyst. Luckily, there was no internal bleeding and I didn’t need surgery, but the residual pain kept me at home for a long time afterward.
I have since recovered and returned to my usual routine. I haven’t seen the woman in the wheelchair again, but I’ve tried to slow down and look up from my phone a bit more. I’ve tried to notice those in need, so I can be ready to help when the time comes.
The story of the good Samaritan isn’t just about service—it’s about inconvenient service. It’s about being willing to miss my train rather than the opportunity to help someone in need.