Stopping Rats

Dear Inner Circle,

Trudging home the other night, I ducked down an unfamiliar alleyway, only to confront one of my few fears: healthy, glowing-eyed, aggressive rats. This growing inner-city problem, is at its worst a minor inconvenience for me, though more accurately offers others a chance to see me jump and scream like a terrified toddler.

Once, on Oxford Street, I was grabbed in a headlock from behind. The boozy breath and the sloppy cheek kiss quickly revealed my assailant. We greeted each other on the street with a big hug, turning the scene from ridiculous to outrageous for onlookers. He enjoyed playful wrestling and tousling hair, so I had to keep making noises to reassure the now frozen bystanders to his jovial intent. The sherry on his breath was as thick as his moustache. His arm, wrapped in a huge bandage, caught my attention. When I inquired, he paused and looked at me quizzically, “Do we know each other?” Now we were all confused, and for someone who didn’t spend his youth wandering the Cross, I chuckled at where life leads.  

The bloke set himself down and invited me to join him, sharing a dramatic tale of chivalry — how he had been injured while defending someone’s honour. Then he swung around, stared at me, before leaning in close, “Actually, I fell asleep, and someone put five pizzas near my head while I was passed out. The rats ate them all and then started in on my arm. I woke up to find one halfway through its meal.”   

Back in the alley, as I walked down my newly determined path to avoid any run-in with a rodent, I came upon one of our team members. She was sitting with a young woman in a state of total distress and pain, the likes of which I’d never seen before. We waited together for the ambulance to arrive. After encouraging my colleague to go home, I walked around collecting the woman’s belongings. Joined by another person, the one who had called paramedics, we chatted briefly. Stooped to gather some paperwork from the gutter, she said: “Please thank that lady if you know her. This poor woman has been in distress for a long time, and hundreds of people have walked past. Only she chose to stop.” 

There’s a deep value in stopping – and sometimes it can make all the difference for one life hanging in the balance. 

Thank you for being part of our Inner Circle, 


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

P.S. Did you know that engaging with others – whether a playful tousle on Oxford St or a chat with someone (however gut-wrenching!) – positively alters your neurophysiology? We’ve launched a new campaign to empower Aussies to prioritise a minimum of 60 minutes of face-to-face social interaction each day. Find out more here.  

Subscribe to Inner Circle, Wayside’s Weekly letter to our community, at the button below to have it delivered straight to your inbox every Thursday. 

Thank you for your reading. Join the conversation by posting a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *