Help From A Stranger

This happened about 9 years ago while on my way to Charlotte to give a presentation to a bunch of teachers.  I was running late because I couldn’t get the wrinkles out of my shirt and my tie wasn’t cooperating with me. The bottom dropped out and I could barely see after going through Greensboro.  I set the cruise control on 70 and was calculating how late I was going to be.  I was supposed to speak second so I may have some wiggle run if the first person can stretch his time out a little.

Meanwhile, I am noticing at how nice the people around Salisbury are.  The last three people have waved at me when they passed.  This road is bumpier than it usually is.  If you have ever traveled that stretch of road you know what I’m talking about.  I look over and there is a guy leaning out his window giving me hand signals that I loosely make out to be paper roll, flat circle, flump-flump-flump-flump.  Oh man! FLAT TIRE!

I get off at the next exit and roll into the first mini-mart I come to.  The rain has not let up, I have a white dress shirt and tie on and I have to speak in a little over an hour.  I don’t have any time to wait the rain out, so I decided to get out and change the tire.  One small problem.  I have the back seat down and the back is packed with computer equipment.  First, I have to move all the computer equipment so I can get under the seat to get the jack.  Second, I have to move the stuff back and get the tire out of the back.  Surely after that I’ll already be soaking wet and it won’t matter.

After getting that stuff taken care of I start jacking the Jeep up.  I’m pulled off to the back of the building away from everyone and I hear a truck pull up beside of me.  I heard a voice call out over the loud noise of the exhaust, “Need help eh?”  “Naw, I’ve got it, thanks” I replied.  He turned off his truck, jumped out and grabbed a huge jack out of the back of his truck.  He was pretty insistent.  “Go get in your Jeep and I’ll take care of it for you”  he insisted.  That caught me off guard.  I told him I was about done and he didn’t have to worry with it.  While we were talking he had started jacking the Jeep up and changing the tire.  I think it honestly took him 2 minutes at the most to change the tire.

In short, he had just moved to Salisbury from Canada where he lost his job as a mechanic.  He had job interviews that week as, get this, a tire changer for three different Nascar teams.  I jokingly told him if he needed a reference they could contact me.  I tried to give him some money, but he wouldn’t take it.  He just wanted me to return the favor to someone in the future.

Later on that year me and a friend of mine were traveling to Reston, VA on a business trip.  We saw a car pulled over ahead of us on the Interstate and it looked like someone was changing a tire.  The Interstate was packed and we were in the far left lane.  I looked back when we passed and it was a guy with a full leg cast and a full arm cast on changing a tire.  You know we had to turn around and help this guy out.  When we pulled behind him he was ecstatic.  He told us he had been out there for about an hour and a half and no one had stopped.  He had been in a car wreck a few weeks prior and was returning home from a business trip.

These days you don’t know who truly needs help or who is just trying to turn a quick buck.  I try to help where I can, but I’ll rarely if ever give out money to someone.  Most of the time people will turn down food because they just want money.

Have you every been helped out by a stranger or helped a stranger?

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