CLEVELAND -- There are two very different sides to 48-year-old Anita Hughes. At her church in Cleveland, she is a fearless hurricane. At home, she’s more like stationary front.
Except for church, she rarely leaves the house and won’t travel anywhere by herself. Which is why it was such a big deal in September when Anita decided to step way outside her comfort zone to take a trip on her own.
“I just got out and made it to the car and I turned the ignition and I actually got on [Interstate] 77 South and I went.”
She was headed to North Carolina for a gospel concert and she made it just fine. But on the way home she got so terribly lost, she didn’t even know what state she was in.
So Anita pulled into a 7-Eleven in Strasburg, Virginia to ask for directions. Surveillance video caught her entering the store. Unfortunately, there’s no sound but by all accounts, you could hear her desperation loud and clear.
“’Can somebody please tell me how get to Cleveland?!’ And everybody in the store just paused,” Anita recalled.
“I mean, she came in full-throated, like a Broadway star on stage reaching the back row,” said Jason Wright, a customer at the store.
He said he gave Anita directions, but she was still scared and skeptical.
“I said ‘If that’s the right way, you come show me how to get to Cleveland.’ So he did,” Anita said.
“I mean, I’m going in the complete opposite direction,” Jason said. “I live here to the south. I’m driving north, so far out of my way.”
Jason drove 35 miles out of his way to get her back on track to Cleveland. But here’s the best part: A few days ago he drove another 300 miles -- to take her to the moon.
Obviously, Anita and Jason have become fast friends. They talk on the phone just about every day and now share a real fondness for one another.
Anita agreed that Jason gave her a lot more than directions that day. “Just a little bit of appliance of affection can change a whole situation,” she said.
Since their chance encounter, Anita has taken another trip, to Detroit. She got a new job and says she’s more confident now than ever.
And as for Jason, he thinks he’s gotten even more out of this: the lesson of a lifetime.
“It just doesn’t matter -- the skin color, the ZIP code -- we’re brothers and sisters, and we really do have a responsibility to help one another get home,” Jason said. And yes, he meant that metaphorically.
When one got lost, hope got found.
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