I have a very low tolerance for pain. I am not exaggerating. I turn into a three-year old whiny brat when I don’t feel well. In an attempt to gauge how much pain I am in, my husband Nashid will sometimes ask the standard question: On a scale of one to ten, how severe is the pain? Even when I note my pain level is at 2, I am out of the game for the rest of the day. It’s a wrap; I don’t even try to function.
Years ago, I got some braids and was doing fine. I’d had them many times so, while they felt tight on my head after the stylist finished, I expected the hair would loosen after a day or two and all would be fine. Unfortunately, on day two I got a terrible headache. I knew the braids had to come out but didn’t feel up to taking them out. I called my stylist and couldn’t get an appointment for her to take them out. I called friends and got the names of their stylists and since it was late Saturday evening, I couldn’t get a stylist who was available or willing to take the braids out. I kept calling and trying to find someone to help me as I was fading fast.
After some time, I called my neighbor, whom I barely knew. We had only been in the neighborhood about four months. Up to that point, the neighbor and I only routinely waved and shouted pleasantries to each other as we traveled in and out of the neighborhood. While we had previously introduced ourselves on one occasion, all I knew was that her name was Robin, she was pretty and was quite stylish. My hope when I called Robin was that she might be able to give me the name of someone who could take the braids out. Unlike me, she was a native Richmonder and I thought Robin may have had a larger pool of possibilities from which she could pull to get me out of my increasing agony.
When I called Robin, I reminded her who I was and told her what I needed. I told her how I had placed several calls in an attempt to get the braids out. After I finished, Robin said, "You don’t sound good." I told her I had a terrible headache and now was beginning to feel nauseous as well. Robin didn’t hesitate for one minute. She said, “Come on over, I'ill take them out”. I thanked her and then protested by saying I couldn’t let her do that. She was insistent that I come over. I was feeling so sick by that time that any shred of pride I had evaporated at the thought that I would be getting those d*** braids out of my head.
I went over to her house and while Robin painstakingly removed the braids. Once she started taking them out I immediately felt better. We talked and laughed and spent the time sharing stories of our lives. So even thirty years later, when I read stories about unexpected kindnesses, invariably I immediately remember Robin.