Woman loses her way home, but finds much more

CLEVELAND -- There were two very different sides to 49-year-old Anita Hughes. At her church in Cleveland, she was a fearless hurricane. While at home, she's more like a stationary front.

As we first reported last year, she rarely left the house and wouldn't travel anywhere by herself. Which is why it was such a big deal when Anita decided to step way outside her comfort zone to take a trip on her own.

"I turned the ignition and I actually got on [Interstate] 77 South and I went," she said.

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Anita Hughes

CBS News

She was headed for 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?!'," Anita recalled asking.

"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. And then a few days later he drove another 300 miles -- to take her to the moon.

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Jason Wright and Anita Hughes embrace

CBS News

Obviously, Anita got a new friend -- and new confidence. 

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 many more trips and got a new job.

As for Jason, he's got a new mission, too. In the last year, Jason has given rides to more than a dozen other strangers. He records and treasures their stories.

Because, he says, if Anita taught him anything, it's that we have a lot more in common than we realize -- and we need to start living like it.

"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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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.