The Value of a Short Chat

Ocado Samaritan Service

As I returned to my depot late on Sunday evening, I spotted a man lying at the side of the road near the edge of a Wiltshire village. I found a convenient place to turn around and went back to see if he was alright.

He didn’t seem to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and he told me that he was not physically ill. However, he did tell me that he had had enough of life and was ready to pack it all in.

I sat down next to him and chatted for fifteen to twenty minutes. He told me a lot of things about his recent life and I could understand why he was feeling down. At first, he was reluctant to tell me his name but, eventually, he revealed that he is called Michael [name changed to protect his identity].

Before I left him to continue with my duties, I convinced him that he still had a lot to contribute to the lives of others and made him promise me that he would stay alive long enough to do that. He’d said that he was expecting his son to come to pick him up, so I made him promise that he would wait there until his son arrived.

As I drove through the village, a police car was approaching from the opposite direction. I flagged him down and made the officer aware of Michael’s whereabouts and that he could do with some help.

I worried about his welfare and was so relieved when, almost twenty-four hours later, I received an email from Michael.

Here’s an extract . . .

Subject: Many thanks for moral support last night

Dear Lance,

Very many thanks for your kindness and very welcome moral support at <village name redacted> last night .

The police picked me up about 5 minutes after you had to attend to your duties.

Very kind chaps. Indeed the second escort who took me home after Xxxx, the Devizes-based young PC who collected me where we met, got me a drink on my getting back and even offered to prepare me some food.

If I can help about your son in any way, please feel free to get in touch.

Many thanks again,

Very best wishes,


This is my response . . .

Dear Michael.

I can’t tell you how delighted I am to hear from you and that you are alive and kicking. As I drove away from you, regretting that I had to get on, I saw a police car coming towards me before I got to the other end of Collingbourne Ducis. I flagged him down and told him where you were and that you could do with his help. That must have been the officer who arrived not long after I left.

Until I received your email and your request to connect on LinkedIn a few minutes ago, I have been worrying about you for almost 24 hours.

I may contact you about my grandson, rather than son, in the coming days, but I am much more concerned that you get your own head back above water before you trouble yourself with anybody else’s problems. You have obviously had huge experience of life and the university of hard knocks, which puts you in a very strong position to help others who really need you at this time. Please turn your bad times into positive boosts for others. As I told you last night, you have such a lot to contribute by staying alive. Don’t waste it!

Stay safe.


We all reach lows in our lives but ending it is not the answer. There is not much you can do to help other people once you are dead, as far as I know, but, by staying alive there is a chance that you’ll be there for somebody when they need you most. I certainly feel that stopping for fifteen minutes for a brief chat with Michael, saved his life on Sunday evening and, perhaps, I gave him the opportunity to save somebody else in the future.

See my previous post: From the Depths of Despair…

About Lance Greenfield

Blog: email: I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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4 Responses to The Value of a Short Chat

  1. trentpmcd says:

    Wow, what an encounter. Lucky for “Michael” you came along. I’m sure he will “pay it forward” some time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post. Very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    You are a good man Lance bless you and Michael 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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