Dear Abby: I have been reading the letters you print about acts of kindness and want to tell you what happened to me. Three years ago, when I was eight months pregnant with my first child, I was driving to the University of Houston's gift shop when a tire on my car blew out.
It was a hot Saturday afternoon, and the campus was nearly deserted. No one at the gift shop would help me out, so I made it to a gas station on the edge of campus. It was located in an area of town to which many people wouldn't travel alone.
As soon as I pulled in, a man came to my window, banged on it, and began shouting at me. Four other men who had been washing windshields for spare change immediately surrounded my car and shooed the first man away. I was nervous, but I got out, and they let me through.
The gas station attendant refused to come out to help me. I tried calling my husband for help, but my cell phone wasn't working. The same four men assessed the situation and offered to help me fill my tire, but the tire was too damaged. They asked me for my spare, but because the car was new I had no idea where it was located. Well, they found the spare and had my tire fixed in no time.While they were working, two of the men told me about their lives, their grandkids, etc. I felt horrible for having prejudged them simply because the neighborhood they lived in wasn't as affluent as my own. Not one of them would accept my offer of money. I am grateful that God sent me four unlikely guardian angels that day. Michelle, League City, Texas
Dear Michelle: Thank you for pointing out that although the crime rate may be higher in lower income neighborhoods, living in one does not make anyone a criminal. We live in an increasingly diverse society today, racially, ethnically and economically. To automatically stereotype people because of how they look, their regional (or foreign) accent, the way they dress or where they live is not only a mistake, it is also a sign of ignorance.
Dear Abby: I'm only 16, but I want to ask my parents if I could start seeing a therapist. I feel like therapy would be a step forward in relieving the stress that depression has been causing me.
My problem is approaching my parents about it. I have been depressed for months, but admitting it to them would be embarrassing. I'm afraid their reaction will be anything but understanding. Money is an issue. We're not the richest family, and my parents are saving all the money they can to put me and my siblings through college.I feel that therapy would be a worthwhile investment for me and my future, but I'm wondering how I can convince my parents. Any ideas on how to tackle this? Searching for a Shrink, Portland, Maine
Dear Searching: Because you have been suffering from depression that has lasted more than a few weeks, you should be seen by someone who can evaluate you. I'm sorry you feel reluctant to discuss this with your parents because depression can run in families and they might not be as surprised to hear it as you think.However, because you're afraid their reaction will be negative, please discuss this with your teacher or a school counselor who can intercede with your parents and see that you meet at least once with a psychotherapist.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate