Sometimes it only takes a small gesture to show others they’re loved and cared for.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Tiffany Dial was at the memorial for her coworker, Sgt. Wytasha Carter, when she experienced one of these small but meaningful gestures. Sgt. Carter, a father of four, had been killed in the line of duty, and the Birmingham, Alabama community is still mourning his loss.
As Deputy Dial saluted the procession in the driving rain, her thoughts were focused solely on the collective pain their community was experiencing over this senseless loss of life. She was so wrapped up in honoring Sgt. Carter, she didn’t even notice when a stranger approached her from behind and held his umbrella over her head.
The man stood for 30 minutes shielding Deputy Dial from the rain. At the end of the procession, the man left without saying a word.
“I didn’t know he was there. My peripheral vision was cut off with my hat, so I didn’t know anything was there. I was in my moment,” said Deputy Dial.
Bystander Meghan Blankenship was the only witness to this small act of kindness. She snapped a picture and shared it online, telling local news, “It brought tears to my eyes, [for him] to show that much respect and love for another individual.”
Others agreed, and soon the search was on for the unidentified civilian who’d sheltered the deputy so selflessly that day. Within hours of the local ABC affiliate’s post on Facebook asking for help identifying the man, he came forward. As it turns out, Shawn Allen works in the same building as Deputy Dial, although they had never crossed paths.
Shawn says he was working that Saturday and keeping an eye on the memorial service outside. “When it was going by my building at work, I wanted to go outside and pay my respect,” he said. Once outside, he saw Deputy Dial and decided on the spot to do “a nice thing.”
“It was raining and I had an umbrella and she didn’t,” Shawn explained. “It was just a nice thing to do.”
Yet for Deputy Dial, the gesture meant much more than just “a nice thing to do.” For her, the fact that an unknown civilian cared enough to help her without her even knowing he was there restored her faith in humanity just a bit.
“It meant a lot, in ways you can’t even put into words,” Deputy Dial stated. “It wasn’t just about keeping the rain off of me for that little bit, it meant a lot more than that.”
Once the deputy and Shawn had been reunited, thanks to the internet, they finally had a chance to meet face-to-face. Naturally their meeting started with a big, warm hug. Shawn admitted that he was overwhelmed by powerful emotions as he witnessed the procession.
“Out of respect for her gesture to salute the procession as it went by, I didn’t think there was anything that I needed to say to her, and I just wanted to keep her warm and dry for a few minutes.”
“People do care about us, and that’s very uplifting. It can be very easy to get jaded in this job, so it’s nice to see the good in people and to be reminded of that too,” said Deputy Dial.
That is a wonderful reminder for us all. Remember that for every negative person you encounter there are a hundred more kind people who would go out of their way to help if they can. Don’t let a bad apple spoil the bunch — there is so much goodness in the world.
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