It’s always good to step out of your comfort zone and face your fears. But when things get overwhelming, it’s nice to know that there are kind people out there who have your back.
Cleveland resident Anita Hughes gained newfound confidence after a chance encounter.
Hughes could almost always be found at home. She would venture out to church on Sundays, where she enthusiastically sang in the gospel choir.
Otherwise, she would rarely leave her house—let alone travel across the country by herself.
Until last September, when Hughes finally worked up the courage to make a special road trip, and she headed to North Carolina for a gospel concert.
“Just take this trip. Step out of the box. Don’t be afraid,” she told herself, according to News 5 Cleveland.
Despite her fears, Hughes made it to the concert just fine—but coming back was another story.
On the way home, Hughes became helplessly lost in Virginia, even reportedly unaware of what state she was in.
Desperate, she stopped into a 7-11, pleading someone, anyone, to give her directions home.
“Can somebody please tell me how to get to Cleveland?” she said, according to CBS News.
It caught the attention of a customer named Jason Wright—who couldn’t ignore Hughes’ apparently loud call for help.
“I mean, she came in full-throated, like a Broadway star on stage reaching the back row,” Wright told CBS News.
So Wright went over and talked to Hughes, trying to give her directions to Cleveland.
But Hughes was still afraid of getting lost—so she asked the stranger to go with her.
“If that’s the right way, you come show me how to get to Cleveland,” she told him, according to CBS.
And while it was very much out of his way, Wright decided to drive along with Hughes for about 35 miles to make sure she didn’t get lost again.
“He would not let me get lost,” Hughes told News 5 Cleveland. “He was so, so nice.”
But after that, the two parted ways. They didn’t exchange contact information or plan to see each other again (although they did snap a selfie)—but the trip made a lasting impression on both of them.
For Wright, meeting Hughes was a reminder that friendship was more than skin deep.
“The Woman from Cleveland couldn’t have looked, talked or acted more differently, but we had the important things in common — love of God and of one another,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
He turned to his followers to help him find his new friend.
When News 5 got ahold of the story, they tracked down Hughes for him—and reunited the travelers via Skype:
The two were ecstatic at the chance to see each other again—and even made plans to meet up in person.
“One day we’re going to get in the car and come see you,” Wright tells her. “How about that?”
“When? You know I need directions!” Hughes jokes.
CBS News checked in on the pair even later, and they did reunite in person—and their lives have reportedly been changed for the better.
For Hughes, Wright’s kindness has inspired her to overcome her fears of traveling. She has reportedly taken many more road trips since, including going to Detroit.
“Just a little bit of appliance of affection can change a whole situation,” she told CBS.
Likewise, Wright was so affected by his ride with Hughes that he’s been inspired to give even more strangers a lift, learning their stories along the way. He records many of them for his YouTube channel.
“We’re brothers and sisters, and we really do have a responsibility to help one another get home,” he told CBS.