Stopped at the traffic lights by a mystery man

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Belgium, Did you know?, Short Story
Tags: , ,

It was a Friday and a rush hour.  I was rushing to get home on time to pick up my younger son at the afterschool day care. The school gates are usually closed by 6.30PM; hence, I had to be in school before then. 

When I drove out of the parking area of my office building and headed for the roads, I could not believe my eyes. What the #$@&!  Where did all the cars come from?  There were more cars than usual that evening.

Then something pretty weird happened at the crossroads.

As soon as the traffic lights turned red, a man walked to the middle of the road and distributed “something” to the drivers.  Most of the drivers wound down their car windows and reached out for that “something” from the mystery man. When the man approached my stagnant car, I did the same – wound down my car window. 

I had experienced this kind of stops before with some job students handing out samples or little try-out cans of beverage (e.g. pepsi max, coke zero, minute maid orange juice, etc) sachets of instant soup and cookies for free; however, that evening was different. The man definitely did not look like a job student at all.

I got a piece of green-coloured paper with a printed note – a plea, rather – with a rather faded pictures of children.

Here’s the original message, in the Dutch language.

For the non-Dutch readers, here’s the translation in English.

Madam, Sir
I am a refugee and I have 3 children. 
I am not working.
We have nothing to eat.
I have problems with paying the (house) rent, the electricity and the gas.
We need help with some money.
In return for your help, I grant you God’s grace that He protects you from harm and misfortune.

A chain letter? Then this must be one live chain letter!

Did I “delete” it?

Shucks! The light was still red.

Then I heard a knock on my window. 

Should I, or should I not?

I knew what he wanted anyway.

By the way, I wasn’t the only ‘victim’. I reached for my purse, and I heard the man saying “two”. I did not know what he meant by that. Strange, but true, I had only a 2 Euro coin in my purse!  I handed the 2 Euro to the man.  He had really cold hands. Brrrrrr…..

Who was that man?

A soothsayer? An undercover social scientist? A beggar mafia?

Beats me. I have never come across such episode before and what intrigued me most is that the incident happened just a week before the Belgian Provincial and Munipical elections. Erm…. this must be Belgium! 😉

The traffic lights turned green.  Whew!  About time.  I dashed homeward bound. I was glad I reached the school on time to pick up my son.

While driving, I couldn’t help thinking what happened just minutes before.  It’s as if I could (still) feel the man’s cold hand on mine. Chilly and creepy at the same time….

Have a good week ahead!


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  1. Angel says:

    I would have been firm and not given him a cent, and would’ve told him to go get a job, I’m sure OCMW could have helped him. Not to be cruel, but you know what they say ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. Met a lot of refugees in my Inburgering course and they all had jobs, even if it was sweeping the streets /rubbish collector, etc….

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Aha… interesting! I gave 3 choices and you immediately thought he’s the 3rd question mark? LOL! Don’t blame you, but if you have 2 seconds to act on what happened that day, best to leave in peace rather than to get my car smashed up. I did say that I was rushing to pick up K, didn’t I? If I have more time to confront, that’d be a different story, or a story that would not be told…. BTW, love the “quotation of the day”. So true. Hope alls well with you and the Flory’s? 😀

  3. Gerard says:

    There are bible verses Mathew 7:7 and Luke 11:9 or Luke 6:38…Check on that. However, in our society (environment)’s difficult to practice those qualities. Too many wrong/bad/harmful elements. Glad it was at a traffic light and not at some car parking lots. Bro G

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks for the verses, bro. Matthew 7:7 (and Luke’s) is the right answer. Which reminds me of a post I wrote “I was pleasantly surprised by the visit of Stanley Lambchop” – one of my personal favourites, which I now added as related reading in this post. Funny, but glad I did what I had to do…

    God bless xxx

  5. Miss B says:

    We occasionally see a beggar at a traffic junction but we never wind down our window. Luckily it’s just a beggar! My FIL just told me that recently there has been a alert from the police (the police advised not to spread this via FB) that there are ** people giving away free key-chains at petrol stations in Belgium. If you happened to accept one of those free key-chains, you will become a target of theft or burglary bcos each key-chain contains a chip that will be able to trace you and your car (suppose you tie the key chain to your car-key). Sophisticated technology!

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Miss B!
    Good to read you and thanks for the tip/ advise.
    I was trying to leave a comment on your recent post, but had problems getting the comment through. It must have gone to your spam box…
    I hope you will post (again) a 100% successful steamed cake in your electric rice cooker. THAT is one sophisticated technology, indeed! While you’re baking in your rice cooker, I had pretty successful adventure with my rice cooker stir frying veggies, cooking curries, noodle soups, etc during my college/univ days… 😀 The rice cooker is one of the best inventions ever for a student!

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