by Arthur W. Griffith
At age 22, I was far from home. I had been totally deaf since contracting spinal meningitis at age seven. Although we were working in Illinois, my brother and I had decided to buy an old car, q uit our jobs and go out West “where the sky is a little bluer, and the friendships a little truer”. We had family members there.
World War II had just started, and soon gas rationing might make the trip impossible. In order to make the trip, I needed a driver’s license. It would be my first. I applied for a driver’s test, but as the appointment date came around, our car was laid up for repairs. What should I do?
Summoning my courage, I walked into a car sales showroom. I wasn’t really expecting any help, but a friendly, middle-aged salesman approached me. Back in 1942, many people felt that a deaf person should not even be allowed to drive. Still, I showed him a note explaining my dilemma.
The man read my note and looked at me kindly. Then he wrote: “I will take you. You can use my car.”
I could hardly believe it, and wrote, “Why are you doing this for me when you don’t even know me?” He wrote back, “My son is in the Army. I hope other people would help him, so now I’ll help you.”
The next day when my appointment was nearly due, I met him and he took me to his car. It was a nice Packard stick shift. After driving a few blocks, he stopped and wrote that I should drive it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get the feel of it first. Because I was nervous, my driving was slow and gear shifting was not all that easy, but he didn’t seem to mind.
He waited while I took the written test. I was gratified to pass with near-perfect marks. Then the officer took me out to the car. The owner was not allowed to ride with us. I was directed to drive around the block and park the car. I eased it out from the curb and guided it safely around, and parked it in the still empty space.
Hooray! I had passed.
My new friend seemed to feel as pleased as I did. I felt like hugging him. I knew I had a debt to repay by helping others. After 20 successful years working in machine shops, I spent the rest of my career as a pastor to the deaf, including five years in Washington, DC.
I have worn out many cars, but will never forget the man who placed his trust in me only minutes after we met, and helped me get my first driver’s license.
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2 thoughts on “He Trusted Me”
What a lovely story. And what a lovely man. I suspect that what he said about his son being in the army was only part of why he helped; I think it was his nature and explaining the partial reason about his son made Arthur more willing to accept the offer.
Thank you so much for sharing the long-term impact on you and how you have carried it forward.
I agree with your analysis. Giving a reason (even something like, “I was going that way anyway”) can make it easier for someone to accept an offer of help. Let us all try our best to carry goodwill forward and make the world a better place for everyone, starting with the people right around us.