When I opened the door, after apologizing for any inconvenience, a complete stranger explained that a lady was having problems after taking her dog for a walk in the park at the end of our street. He said he had taken the dog home for her, but was having difficulties helping the lady because she couldn't walk very well and he wasn't strong enough to support her weight.
When questioned how we could help, he asked whether I could spare £3.50 for a taxi to take her home. I admit it, I thought it was a scam - just a way of extracting cash from a gullible stranger. Although tempted to shut the door on him, instead I called his bluff and offered to give her a lift home. He seemed genuinely relieved, so I followed him to the end of the street where a figure was huddled up against the park gates, clearly in distress.
The lady, Mandy, had taken her small dog for a walk in the sunshine that afternoon. The effort had tired her out and she had fallen asleep in the park and woken up in the dark. The man, a neighbour, had gone looking for her when she failed to return home and found her very cold and disorientated in the park, having lost her shoes.
Back at the house, Steve's initial reaction on hearing this story was like mine - it was a confidence trick. But when he heard the full details, he put on his coat, got into the car and managed to reverse to the end of the street between closely parked vehicles so that she didn't have to walk any distance. Even with two of us supporting her, it wasn't an easy job to get her into the car. A few minutes later, she was delivered safely home where her neighbour Nick would look after her.
I sat in the passenger seat when we drove home. I could still feel the cold from Mandy's body, even through a warm coat. I shudder to think what would have happened to her, had her neighbour Nick not bothered to go out looking for his missing friend. I don't know how many doors he had knocked on asking for help before ours. What would have happened to her, had our suspicious minds prompted us to shut the door on Nick rather than believing his story?
It struck me that one day, we could easily be put in this position - needing help from a stranger if Steve suddenly found himself having serious breathing difficulties some distance from home or transport. If that time ever comes, I hope the person we approach will be a good Samaritan.
Heading home, we couldn't fail to miss the huge super moon shining brightly low in the sky over Oxford. What a wonderful sight! We would have missed it, had we not been prized out of the comfort zone of home in response to Mandy's predicament. Good to have a happy ending!