Sometimes we can be too quick to respond to someone on autopilot, instead of considering how you can help them instead. Jennifer Pete followed her gut instinct and made a connection with a stranger that would result in memories to last a life time.
After dropping her son off at his dad’s, Jennifer drove home in her Porsche Panamera. It was a beautiful spring day in Atlanta, so she had the windows down and was enjoying her leisurely drive. As she slowed for a red light on Memorial, she noticed a young man standing at a MARTA bus stop.
She made friendly eye contact with the boy and he took this opportunity to quickly ask her an out of the blue question. “Ma’am, would you like to be my chauffeur tomorrow for my girlfriend’s prom?”
Jennifer smiled, impressed by his gutsy move and charm, but she automatically replied that she was sorry but she had other plans. She then proceeded to drive off in her car, that he clearly admired.
Not even a block away, Jennifer started thinking about the short exchange and why she had said no. Following her gut instinct, she turned the car around and drove back to talk to the young man.
His name, I learned, was Jonathan. The look on his face when I came back was wide-eyed and fantastic. We exchanged details and I agreed to pick him up at his mom’s the next day. As I drove away for the second time, I felt excited and open and super present.
When Jennifer arrived at his house the next day to pick him up, she sat and talked with his mom while he continued to get ready. They joked about how long it takes teenage boys to get ready and his mom couldn’t thank Jennifer enough for giving him this opportunity. Jennifer could already tell she’d made the right choice in turning her car around.
She took pictures of Jonathan and his mom and then drove him to pick up his girlfriend. It soon became apparent that his girlfriend was no way near ready, so Jennifer and Jonathan hit the road to kill time.
Hitting up the popular Atlanta spots, they had a fun photoshoot as they drove all over. Downtown, Old Fourth Ward, the West Side; you name it, they went there and Jonathan posed for the camera.
The pair spoke about school, what he wanted for the future, his dad, sports and Atlanta in general. Their conversations went from funny to heavy to light again; there was never a lull in their conversation. Who’d have thought a chance meeting would result in such a beautiful connection with a stranger!
It wasn’t lost on me how happy, energised and engaged we both were during this experience. It was so random how it happened, but felt so intentional at the same time.
When they finally picked up his girlfriend for the evening, Jennifer took pictures of the glammed up pair and they set off for the prom at the Fox theatre. As the young couple chatted away in the backseat, Jennifer enjoyed her important role as their chauffeur to high school prom.
Dropping off the couple right at the front of the theatre, with the windows down and blaring a Future song as requested, the youngsters felt like the King and Queen of the prom. Jonathan opened the door for his date like a true gentleman and she emerged from the car waving to the crowds waiting outside. They felt like celebrities.
As Jennifer was about to pull away, Jonathan looked back at her with a giant smile on his face and mouthed, “Thank you.”
I left with my heart very full and feeling incredibly lucky to have had that experience. It got me thinking about what if we all made more eye contact, or talked to ‘strangers,’ said more yes’s than no’s, were generous just for the sake of it. I promise I got more out of that day than he did.
It wasn’t the last time that Jonathan and Jennifer would see each other. They have stayed in touch and Jonathan even invited Jennifer to his high school graduation.
By listening to her gut, Jennifer managed to make a connection that she never would have had if she had continued to drive away that day. Perhaps we could all learn a lesson from this heartwarming story – that we should say more yes’s and be more generous to strangers. You could form a friendship or a special connection with a stranger.
“By listening to my gut, it allowed me to solidly connect to my instincts, families I would have never met and a kid named Jonathan whose courage to ask the question led to an amazing adventure for both of us.”