What comes around, goes around. Even in the best ways.
Standing in the self checkout line, a gentleman in front of me starts scanning his groceries. Reaching down into his jeans after placing the last item in a bag, I could see a slightly embarrassed ‘oh no’ look come over his face as he glanced back at me and said, “I just realized, I left my wallet in my vehicle.”
Without even giving it a thought, I quickly stepped over and slid my debit card into the slot of the chip reader.
Immediately, and maybe even in a little bit of shock, he said, “Ma’am, you don’t have to do that.”
“It’s OK,” I smile.
“Let me just run out to my vehicle and get my wallet real quick, I’ll be right back,” he said.
“No, it’s really OK.”
“Well, I’ll catch you outside and give it back to you,” he insisted.
“No, please don’t do that. Really, just pay it forward sometime.”
As soon as I stepped outside, I saw him waving me over. I darted swiftly in the direction of my car, threw my hand up in the air in a ‘stop’ gesture and smiled again waving him on. Then continued at a fast pace toward my car so he couldn’t catch up with me.
That feeling of helping someone is like no other. A glow of happiness came over me and it felt so deeply gratifying. I don’t believe there could ever be a way to fully describe it. I pulled out of the parking lot with a big smile on my face — and in my heart — and couldn’t wait to call my mom and share that moment with her.
Less than a week later, I’m headed home enjoying my ‘80s drive at five jam, when all of the sudden I hear a thud. Immediately I see a warning symbol flash on my dash screen displaying ‘TIRE LOW, ADD AIR’ to the rear passenger tire. A blink later, 25, 24, 23… displays as a countdown on the tire pressure begins. Crap.
22, 21, 20… Crap, crap! I’m on Highway 67 South at the worst time of the day, traffic is crazy. Every other vehicle is an 18-wheeler, the shoulder is shallow and uneven. I have a terrible phobia of car jacks popping out from under a vehicle and, just my luck, my other half, Allen, was at a meeting in a building that hardly ever has cell service.
Not too far ahead, I see a good spot to pull over. Come on, just a little further.
10, 9, 8… Oh, come on! Just get there!
3, 2, 1… OK, time to give in. I had to pull over, I could feel the tire rim grinding into the pavement.
Once I came to a stop, I sat for a few seconds to assess my situation and quickly realized that it’s less than an hour from being dark. I noticed some scary dark gray clouds possibly coming my way. At that point, I decide to send Allen a quick text, just in case he is able to receive it. And, being completely honest here, I was hoping someone passing by would recognize me and stop to help. But anyway, “suck it up buttercup,” I say to myself, open my door and head toward the hatchback to gather the tools and spare tire.
After quite the struggle to try and get the tightly fastened tools out of their holding place, I finally prevail then lay them on the ground, which is almost knee-deep with grass.
Determined, I crawl partially under the car (yes, in my office work clothes), get the car jack secured to the frame, then get back up to my feet. Wrench in hand, I begin to try and loosen a lug nut. Nope, won’t even budge. After trying and trying — and trying in many different ways, with many different body parts — still not budging.
Mind you, my dad taught me how to change a tire 30+ years ago. Clearly, today, I am no match for the power tools used recently to rotate my tires.
I give in, again.
Feeling defeated, I reach in the car to see if Allen received my text when, surprisingly, my phone starts to ring and it’s him. I don’t even get two words out when I see a truck with top lights flashing, pulling over in front of my car then backing up.
What? My eyes must be deceiving me. A work truck belonging to a tire business? ‘No way’, I think to myself. Heaven must have opened up and dropped me an angel.
Oh, how true that was.
A very kind and wonderful gentleman gets out of the truck and asks if he could help. After an anxious nod and me asking, “please,” he didn’t waste any time before he began preparing to help get me back on the road.
At one point, I asked him how much I owed him, he just shook his head and said I didn’t owe him anything, he helps people on the highway all the time.
We chatted a little bit while he was in the process of fixing my tire, I learned his name is Robert.
As it turned out, my tire wasn’t ruined. All it needed was a hole plugged, which he did right there on the side of the highway.
After he checked to make sure he had gathered all his tools, again, after numerous times of trying, I asked to please let me pay him. He just wouldn’t accept it — just like I wouldn’t from the gentleman a couple days earlier at the grocery store.
Before turning around and walking back to his truck, he pointed toward the windshield of my car and asked if I was ‘mom’ to the guy in the military. Knowing he was referring to an ornament hanging on my rearview mirror with my son’s Air Force picture, I replied, “yes.”
He extends his hand, I do the same, we shake and he says, “God bless you,” then turns around walks back to his truck, gets in and waits until I’m back on the road headed south.
God bless you, Robert.
Kindness is contagious, keep spreading it around.
Wouldn’t life be like a wonderful carousel ride if everyone was kind to each other?
YOU set it in motion.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. — Gandhi
Bridget Curnutt is the Composition Director for the Daily American Republic. She has been employed here for 24 years. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org