When I was in university, I remember going grocery shopping and then walking home with the excruciating displeasure of the bag handles digging into my fingers, and the exhausting weight on my shoulders of other groceries stuffed into my backpack.

Several months ago, I was driving up the street and saw a man in the same circumstance.  His hands were visibly red and sore from the weight and I watched him as he would sort of run in tiny steps about 20 feet, and then put the bags down for a rest.  I just flashed back to my experience with groceries and immediately my heart went out to the guy.  I suppressed all of the fear I’ve had bred into me about picking up strangers and I reversed course to offer him a ride the remaining 5 or 6 blocks to his building, then helped him bring the groceries up to his third floor apartment.  I figured he wasn’t likely to hold me at knife-point because, really, what serial killer buys a bunch of groceries and then carries them home to solicit sympathy so that someone will offer a ride? (I hope there aren’t any serial killers reading this or I might have just given them an idea!).

Today, I am thankful for having a vehicle.  I feel gratitude for the freedom and privilege of being able to go wherever I want when the fancy takes me, but also (and mostly) for the ease of doing the same tasks that others who do not have a vehicle still have to do. And those without vehicles have to do the tasks sometimes with the added burden of screaming children and strollers and — especially in the case of groceries — the burden of not having enough money for the groceries in the first place.

And let me take it a step further to be thankful for public transportation and the ability to use it. Public transportation is a regular fixture in developed countries in cities large enough to need them, but one which is still not accessible to many, either because of disability or cost or simply because the transportation does not serve outlying rural areas which house people who nevertheless need to get to city centres for work.  I know of people who face a grueling traffic-jammed commute by car, but imagine having to walk 20 kilometres / 12½ miles or more to and from work each day.  This is a reality for many.