by Justin Masters
Late on a Friday afternoon, my wife and I embarked on a last-minute trip to southern California to see a grandchild play in an important soccer tournament in Oceanside, CA. As we drove the “grapevine” (north of the greater Los Angeles area), I noticed a tapping in the engine of our vehicle that quickly progressed to a much louder rattling. Due to the late hour, we were unable to find an auto parts store close by, and pulled into a gas station to check oil and coolant levels.
As an experienced mechanic, I could tell we were facing major damage associated with oil starvation due to blocked oil passages, and set about to find a local Hyundai dealership. With the engine now rattling even more loudly and power decreasing quickly, we questioned whether we would make it at all. We arrived just after closing time. Stress rose over the next hour as we realized there were no nearby rental car agencies, we were two hours from our destination, and had no way to get to the Burbank or Los Angeles airports (20 and 40+ miles away respectively).
Neither my wife or I had Uber or Lyft accounts, and we were facing a very large bill to get delivered all the way to the LA airport. Diego, who worked at the Hyundai dealership, leaving long after closing time, walked past us on his way to his car. Desperate, we reached out, hoping he knew about some other rental car options nearby. He assessed the situation — and offered to take us to the Burbank airport. After loading a large amount of luggage and lawn chairs into his car, he delivered us to the rental car counter just 10 minutes before it closed for the evening.
We offered a fair amount of money in thanks to cover his time and gas, but he declined. Upon our insistence, he finally accepted some money for gas and asked that we help someone else in their hour of need. We agreed!
With gratitude and thanks to Diego, we were able to make it to our destination in time to get a few hours of sleep before attending our grandson’s soccer game the next morning. I suspected the engine was ruined, and the diagnosis was verified the next day by another employee at the dealership, Riley, who also relieved a great deal of stress by verifying our repair was not only covered by a warranty, but so were the car rental costs during the repair, and that the car would be delivered to a dealership near our residence 375 miles away! When we stopped by the dealership on the way home to unload our car of our belongings, we saw Diego there, and were able to thank him again for all he did for us that night in our hour of need.