This is a little more of a personal post than a real estate lesson… but hopefully, it will remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing and to put things into perspective from time to time. I woke up today and was just hit with one annoyance after another… Nothing major, just one of those days where every little thing adds up and by the end of the day, you’re just plain annoyed. Nothing you do can shake you out of the mood. Have you ever had one of those days? Well, after attending our HOA meeting for one of our townhomes, we decided to grab a quick bite to eat a local restaurant. We just had a couple of quick appetizers and a beer and then decided to stop by the ice cream shop on the way out.

The ice cream store was just across the street, so we headed on over. As we walked out the door and crossed the street, we noticed this little girl walking on the sidewalk, kind of wandering up and down the street as if her parents were sitting outside at one of the little cafes maybe having a drink or some dinner. But, the little girl didn’t have a shirt on and her shoes were on the wrong feet, so it caused us to pay a little extra attention.

We smiled at the little girl thinking that someone from the first table we walked by would claim her. Then, a small group of people at another table further down – maybe 20 steps – asked if she was ours. Nobody was claiming this little girl, who couldn’t have been more than 2 1/2 years old.

Immediately, everyone began to sense that something wasn’t right. I scrouched down and tried to talk to her, but she wouldn’t say anything. I asked her a few times if she wanted ice cream and she finally tilted her head ever so slightly to indicate that she was, in fact, on board for some ice cream. So, I picked her up and Brandon took the little bag she’d had with her and we brought her into the ice cream store and let her pick her most favorite kind of ice cream while we tried to find someone to claim her. In the meantime, one of the other gentlemen that was sitting at a nearby table called the police. He came into the ice cream store while we finished getting through the line and assured me that I could bring it to her outside, most likely so that she’d be visible when the frantic parents walked by.

We explained she was terrified and we couldn’t get her to say a single word. He was very kind to her and truly just wanted her to be safe. We brought her a rainbow colored ice cream cone and with the help of another concerned woman, tried to keep her calm while we waited. Nobody was running up and down the streets frantically looking for this child and we feared that she was about to be on her way to the police department with a phone call into DCF. As we waited with her, trying to keep her distracted and as happy as she could be, I went to find her a t-shirt to keep her warm, the waitress from the restaurant next door brought her over a blanket, a stuffed bear and a ball.

There must have been 15 people standing there wanting to help protect this little girl until we found her family. Another police officer showed up and looked through her bag and we were all just confused. How could this child be wandering about with no one looking for her? Was she dropped off here? What was the deal? The worst must have gone through everyone’s mind at some point. You see, we were on a little strip with some restaurants and shops, probably 2-3 blocks from any homes other than some higher end condos that overlooked the street. It was about 9:00pm and nobody seriously thought this child could have walked out of home and downtown without someone noticing unless something was going on. You could tell the police officer had seen far too many incidents that didn’t make this one look like the ending was going to be happy.

Finally, a young girl, probably about 12 showed up with a little boy – 8-ish, I’m guessing. Fortunately they showed up when they did because the officer was getting our information for the report and it pretty much looked like they were on their way to the police station, the child’s fate unknown.

We’re not sure where the parents were, but the grandfather was supposedly watching all of the kids and these two children were “in charge” of our little girl. No one knows if the parents were even in the picture at all. But the little girl seemed to know the kids and was quick to head over to them as soon as they began talking to the police officer. It was obvious they were quite shaken up over the situation as was she. We stayed for a few more minutes, but once we knew the girl was safe and officers had the family, there was nothing more to do. We gave the little girl a hug and thanked the police officer and left him to do his job. We felt we’d be more in the way than of any help at this point. We walked back across the street, thankful that we were in the right place at the right time.

Certainly, there were other people there that were looking out for her, but no one else stopped to talk to this little girl or to see what was the matter. Who knows what could have happened to her. With all the terrible stories on the news, I’m just thankful we were there to keep her safe while her family found her. I was also saddened by the fact that there are so many children that don’t have someone looking out for them and it reminded me of one of the big reasons I’m building my business. When I have children, I want to be able to be home with them and to keep them safe and more importantly, I want to help other children. There are so many that need our help, that are in the care of our cities and counties and that are never given a chance to even dream. What could have caused this little girl to put her shoes on, pick up her bag, sneak out the door and wander down the street at 9:00 at night. It just doesn’t seem right. 2 ½ year old children should be in bed asleep or at least having their bedtime story read to them. And the fact that we couldn’t get a single word out of her led me to believe (right or wrong) that something can’t be perfect at home.

Not to mention… I live in South Florida and with 3 children inside, the doors most certainly should have been locked if nothing else but to keep these kids safe at night. Unfortunately, I can’t change what happened tonight, but I can be thankful that I was in the right place at the right time to help her. You never know where your day will lead you and when you have the chance to truly help someone less fortunate. And remember, life has a funny way of putting you back in your place and humbling you when you start thinking about yourself and stop thinking about others. Years ago, I started a “gratitude journal” where you write down 5 things every night, before you go to bed, that you are thankful for! I challenge you to start writing down 5 things every day that you are thankful for, and see how quickly things start changing for the better.

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