If You Need Anything

by James Schrader
New York, USA

In 1974 my college roommates, Steve, Craig, and I drove to Yonkers from upstate New York to take Steve home for spring break. Returning, Craig and I took toll-free roads to conserve funds.

If You Need AnythingSunday evening we got $5.00 worth of gas on a side road, saving 35 cents between us for one upcoming toll road. A mile later we heard a terrible grinding noise under the car, the brakes quit, and we rolled to a stop on a dark, deserted back road. The axle had separated.

With little traffic, we decided we had to flag down the next car and ask for help. When a car came we stood in the roadway. After we explained our problem to the husband and wife who stopped, Craig went with them to find help while I stayed with the car. Soon a Trooper stopped, put up flares, and radioed for a tow truck. Even though Craig had gone for help, he said he must move the car as soon as possible for safety. Half an hour later a tow truck arrived — and Craig was riding with the driver!

By 10:30 p.m. the tow truck driver had us at his garage. We said we’d sleep in our station wagon, but he’d have none of that, and brought us to a small trailer by his house. He gave us blankets and pillows for the night.

The next morning we woke to a knock. When I opened the door, a woman introduced herself as the tow truck driver’s wife. She brought us into her home, gave us juice and eggs, saying her husband left to work on the car two hours earlier. She drove us to the station, where we thanked her over and over.

We learned the bill would be $65.00. We had no credit cards, no way of getting money other than our parents driving down — but they were at work.

The couple we’d flagged down had given Craig a number to call if we needed anything. So we called, and the husband gave us a restaurant
address, saying, “Come by, I’ll see what I can do”. With the car fixed late that morning, Craig stayed behind as ‘security’ while I drove to
the small roadside diner.

I asked for the owner, we sat, and I described our predicament. He asked what I had for collateral. I had 35 cents, my license and the car
registration. He said the registration was enough, opened the cash register and handed me $65.00!

After thanking him many times, I picked up Craig, paid the bill, and we drove home. My Mom sent a check immediately, and the registration arrived by mail a few days later.

Though time has erased their names, I’ve never forgotten what the people who helped us did. Since then I’ve always helped people in tight spots, and never been disappointed. I’m still trying to give back to others what I got a long time ago.

Originally published as HeroicStories #433 on Aug 7, 2003

1 thought on “If You Need Anything”

  1. This is a wonderful story of many people going “above and beyond” to help others. But, for me, the best part is that the author learned the lesson at a relatively young age and has carried on to help others. I suspect that that is the greatest way he can honor those who helped him and his roommates.
    Thanks for the life example, James.


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