This is going to be about Andy, about how he showed compassion toward me when I was down and out and in need. This is mostly about me until the end, so bear with me.
Chicago, in the spring of 2005.
I walked out of the apartment building we were staying in, and noticed that my (my dad’s lease from Ford) was gone. “Huh. I know I parked my car there last night. Where is it?” I parked my car on the street the night before, and I made sure there weren’t any “no parking” signs around there. It looked clean. I looked in the morning light, and saw that where there was supposed to be a no parking sign, the sign had been torn down. Great.
I told John Hochevar, the staff guy that ran the program, that my car wasn’t outside any more, and a look of disappointment flushed the compassion from his face. He helped me call the police, and we found out that my (not really) car was impounded for being illegally parked. My car had been parked along an “emergency snow route” during the snow season (early spring). We were going to drive to a service site, and work on a project some distance away, and my car was enlisted as necessary transportation. John was not happy. I felt guilty.
I talked to the lady on the phone, she was very informational. There was a $180 towing fee, and I needed a notarized letter from the vehicle owner that I could get the car out of the lot because I wasn’t the vehicle owner. I had neither the 180 or the notarized letter. I called my dad, and he yelled at me a little, asked me why I wasn’t more careful (I resented that), and he started working on getting that notarized letter. Throughout the day, I called the police, asking if they had received the letter, using someone’s cell phone. I kept working, even though I was angry at myself and the world.
I was in a sour mood for the rest of the day. I had screwed up the day’s plans, I had disappointed my father, I had lost $180. And everything built upon everything else, and I felt like the world was against me.
Fast forward to the end of the day, after I had gotten the car out of the impound, with the gracious help of John. Andy had helped me with the money I needed to get the car out of the impound lot, I think it was $40, maybe more, but what I remember is that he didn’t want me to pay him back. He gave me the money without batting an eye. He asked, “How much do you need?” Later, I tried a couple times, but he wouldn’t have any of it. When I had some sort of a breakdown in front of Andy, he said something to the effect of,
“I was angry at you at first, but when you said your dad was angry at you, I realized what you were going through. I had my car towed in Chicago too. I understand how you feel.”
I didn’t really know what to make of the statement, at first, I was sad and a bit put off, but then there was some comfort in what he had said. I guess I felt like all the shit I had been heaping upon myself all day long was not carried by myself alone, Andy had gone through it as well. He understood. I guess that was it, he understood all of those things I was feeling: the disappointment of parents, the self-directed anger, the helplessness, the shame. It felt good to be understood by one who had experienced the same things. Andy understood the hardships of people, and he had compassion on them. Andy actually did what Jesus taught: he loved his neighbor.