Meg over at Sleepy New Mommy posted a great story about a stranger’s Random Act of Kindness. I love reading stories like this because I think too often people tend to put themselves first, so it’s nice to know there are still those folks out there who will help others and teach their children to do the same.
Meg’s story got me thinking about something that happened to Nathan and me about nine years ago. We wanted to plan a trip to get away for a few days, but we didn’t have a whole lot of money to take a proper vacation. This was back when Nathan was heavy into building model airplanes, mostly military aircraft, so we decided on a stop at the Air Force museum in Dayton and two days at King’s Island in Cincinnati.
We decided to drive since funds were limited. Dayton’s about a five-hour drive from home, but we didn’t exactly have great cars at the time. We had a compact Mazda 323 that was so small it could have doubled as a clown car at the circus. Our other vehicles were a Ford Escort that didn’t run at all and a Taurus that needed work done. Being six foot five, Nathan wasn’t keen on driving the clown car and neither of us wanted to drive a car that didn’t have a working air conditioner, which none of our cars had.
I called my dad up and asked if we could use his van. He was teaching driver’s training for the school district at the time and wasn’t using his own car to get back and forth to work. I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a hardship for him since his own van would be sitting in the garage anyway, but he said no. I believe his unwillingness to let us use the car came partly from his knowledge of how bad a driver I used to be and partly from just being stingy with his stuff. The combination of the two meant we had to use one of our own vehicles to get to Ohio.
We ended up getting the Taurus tuned up and the air conditioner fixed. The repairs ended up eating a bit of the money we had hoped to bring on our trip, but we decided it would be worth it for a fun few days away. We were also pretty sure repairs on a domestic car would be cheaper than getting the AC fixed on a foreign car and chose the lesser of two evils.
Or so we thought.
Things were fine all the way into Ohio. We found our motel without a problem, checked in and went out for dinner at a restaurant down the street. The next day, a Sunday, we got in the car and made our way to the museum, but just as we pulled into the museum parking lot the car sputtered and died.
We tried to start it. Nothing. The battery warning light came on and we kept turning the ignition with no response from the car. Meanwhile, other cars were lining up behind us. I was sitting the the driver’s seat and waved them past, which they did while we tried and tried to get the car started with no luck.
Eventually a pickup truck with Michigan plates passed and pulled over just in front of us. An gentleman and his two teenage sons emerged and asked us if we needed some help. Seeing as we didn’t want to clog the entrance to the U.S. Airforce Museum any longer than we had to, we quickly took him up on his offer to help us push the car into a parking space.
Our good Samaritan turned out to be from Alma, a town about an hour and a half from our home that also just happed to be the town where Nathan’s mom grew up. The five of us had a friendly chat while we stood around the piece-of-shit Taurus and tried to assess the problem. Since the battery light had come on we thought maybe we just needed a jump. Only we didn’t have any jumper cables nor did he.
Nathan mentioned passing a Meijer on the way to the museum and wondered if it would be possible to get back there. Wanting to help but not wanting to miss his trip to the museum with his sons, our good Samaritan handed over the keys to his truck and told us to go buy some jumper cables. “Are you sure?” we asked. This guy didn’t know us from Bonnie and Clyde. How did he know we wouldn’t take the keys to his truck and leave him stranded? I guess there was something about us that didn’t say “felons”. He only asked that we page him when we got back to the museum so we could give him back his keys.
As we headed out of the museum in search of the store, Nathan and I sat silently in the truck as we contemplated what had just happened. “I can’t believe he just handed over his keys like that,” I said. “My own father wouldn’t let me borrow his car and a complete stranger loaned us his truck without blinking an eye.”
It turned out the cables didn’t work. After finding a towing service and repair shop that operated on Sundays, we found out our alternator was shot. While at the repair shop, I placed a collect call to my parents to tell them how we had been stranded at the museum and how a complete stranger had showed us unbelievable generosity.
Yeah, I had to rub it in.
I still remember that guy’s name. Roger. Roger P. from Alma.
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