Eugene, Oregon is a unique, little place. Located in the Pacific Northwest, the town was popularized by the iconic Merry Prankster, Ken Kesey. Kesey’s countercultural views left an indelible impression on the area, which is largely known for its unique, hippie population and alternative discourse. In today’s society, where anger and violence are common, it seems that kindness may now be considered one of these alternative ideas…
Two years ago, Robert Wood and his family were in the midst of moving back to his home state of Oregon and had made it all the way to Eugene.
The family was moving from Alaska, which was expensive in itself— but, added to the fact they were already struggling financially, it becomes clear that they had to make every penny count. Not wanting to waste what little cash they had left on a hotel, the family decided to sleep in their car.
In a Facebook post which has since gone viral, Robert explained, “Having just pulled into Eugene, Oregon last night, my family has not yet found a place to stay.”
“Not wanting to burn through my savings by spending money each night on a hotel room, we decided to sleep in our in the parking lot of Alton Baker Park.”
Robert, his wife Heather, and their two sons, Samuel and Logan (ages 2 and 4), nuzzled together in the vehicle, hoping to get a good night’s rest. At about 10:30 PM, however, a police officer began rapping on the window’s glass.
As can be imagined, Robert wasn’t impressed by the visitor.
In an interview with NBC16, he explained, “You think police are going to come up and rouse you and harass you, and be like ‘Get out, you loser! What are you doing in your car?!'”
Luckily for the down-and-out family, that was definitely not the case.
Eugene Police Lt. David Natt had been patrolling the area when Robert’s car had caught his eye. The Alton Baker Park was closed and he thought the lonely vehicle looked a bit suspicious.
When he saw the Wood family, however, he was shocked.
Lt. Natt had likely expected to see loitering teenagers or a drug deal, in action. Instead, when he saw the family huddled in the cold car trying to sleep, he immediately felt his heart break. He knew he’d have to take action.
The lieutenant offered to buy the family a hotel room for two nights, which would give them a chance to find somewhere more permanent to stay.
In his post, Robert writes, “I didn’t want that, and [I told him] that I had money in the bank and would feel guilty taking his charity.”
“I told him we just got off the road from Alaska and we’re still looking for a place to rent.”
“He told me he’d like to do it anyways and that the police department had a fund just for situations like this.”
Despite Robert’s protests, Lt. Natt insisted on taking care of them.
In an interview with NBC16, Natt said, “I told [Robert], ‘[This is] an opportunity to gain a bit of time.’ A little bit of time is so valuable.”
“Any of us could be right where they’re at. It doesn’t take much.”
Robert was so touched by the lieutenant’s gesture, he shared the story on his Facebook page, where it immediately went viral. Likely reflecting on his own previous ideas about the police, he tells others:
“Don’t hate on the police… There are bad characters in all walks of life, but never believe the police are there to hurt you. Those men and women who choose to wear body armor and help people do so with good, courageous hearts. I’m so grateful for the gift I have been given tonight.”
Lieutenant Natt’s gesture had a profound impact on the Wood family and Robert, in particular. The young man is reported as saying, “He made me want to be able to do the same kind of things for other people.”
“It was really moving.”
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