Charles Adams, an American politician, said, “No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him. It is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction.” Recently, a story of a Georgia family that went the extra mile for me in 2010 keeps popping into my mind. It’s a story I haven’t shared much but it’s one I feel that needs to be told.
As a volunteer missionary in Savannah in 2010, I lived with five missionaries at a two-story house that had recently been converted from a garage. We lived in a run-down neighborhood where we got used to hearing gunfights nightly, police sirens, and disputes of all kind. I lived in this neighborhood for six months. It was the summer of 2010 and at the time I was working with two other volunteer missionaries from Utah. We were working with an African American family named the *Overton’s (name has been changed). We had hit it off well since Mrs. Overton was from my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. We often came to visit them since their apartment complex was close by. Their particular apartment complex had a reputation for gang violence. Racial tensions are still high in some of these neighborhoods and whites are not the most popular. It was scary to head into this neighborhood, but the three of us felt that we’d be protected since we were on the Lord’s errand.
Most of our conversations with Mrs. Overton took place standing in front of her doorway. Her apartment was on the second story so we had a clear view of all that took place in this complex. On this one particular night, we were again talking with Mrs. Overton before we headed in for the day. The sun had almost sunk below the horizon and the apartments were just beginning to come to life like they always did when night came. We were just finishing chatting with Mrs. Overton when we heard some commotion out in the middle of all the apartments. There was nothing but a dirt road in between the apartment buildings and trees surrounding it. I peered off the balcony close to Mrs. Overton’s door and was alarmed when I watched as dozens of residents running in all directions–most were running into various apartments and slamming their doors.
The tension escalated when a young African American women came bolting up the stairs screaming, “Everybody get inside! They are about to start shooting! Get inside! They are about to shoot!” She quickly ran up the stairs, opened her apartment door, and locked it.
I remember thinking, “I am so glad my Mom isn’t watching this right now.”
The three of us looked at Mrs. Overton and she asked, “Y’all wanna come inside?” We didn’t need to be asked twice.
After locking the door, the three of us sat down on the floor. Mrs. Overton told us, “Y’all can stay in here till the shooting stops. It’s okay.” She then proceeded to work on various errands in the house. I watched as two of her older kids cooked dinner in the kitchen. Two of Mrs. Overton’s younger daughters came to visit with us while we waited to keep us company. After an hour of waiting, the two missionaries and I felt it was safe to check outside. The sun had already set and the sky was a dark blue. We had barricaded ourselves in the Overton’s apartment for an hour, yet no shots were fired. The apartment complex was still abandoned. We thanked Mrs. Overton for allowing us to stay longer and took off for home. We had no intentions of staying any longer outside in that complex at least for that night.
As you all are aware, I currently intern at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I strive to go the extra mile there with customers and make sure their needs are satisfied. Some customers tell me, “Sorry, I hope I am not annoying you.” I reply to them, “No, don’t be. I live for this and don’t mind one bit.” The reason I am like this today is because of the Overton’s. They could’ve easily joined their neighbors and locked the door telling us to run for our lives. We, being white, were prime targets for violence. She didn’t have to, yet Mrs. Overton allowed us to come into her home and wait it out.
That’s why I strive to go the extra mile. It’s so easy to do the same monotonous tasks in our lives. Yet going the extra mile truly does make a difference. Most people realize when you are going out of their way to make their day better. I don’t know what would have happened if Mrs. Overton hadn’t let us in, but I do know she went the extra mile to protect the three of us. I feel in society we don’t see that much nowadays and that we are all wrapped up in our own lives to not care about helping those around. Going the extra mile only takes minutes–even seconds in some situations. People will not forget those steps you made to make sure their day was even better. I vividly still remember the Overton’s and what they did for me that warm summer night. I will never forget them. I can assure you that those that you go the extra mile for will not forget you either.