by Susan Saunders
With two children in elementary school and one toddler in diapers, mornings were busy. One morning in 1987 all was well as I headed out, carrying my baby, diaper bag and purse. Just as I stepped through the front door, the baby vomited on us both.
Throwing down diaper bag and purse, I bathed us and changed our clothing. I snagged the diaper bag, ran out, buckled all three children and drove away. And we arrived as the first warning bell sounded!
Then my car died. A janitor heard me trying to restart it and came to assist. We couldn’t start it, so this gentleman helped PUSH my car a mile to a garage.
The owner never lifted his head, gruffly saying he couldn’t look at my car for days. I asked to use his phone to arrange a tow.
I found a mechanic, then notified my work. When the towing company asked for a credit card, I went after my purse… to find I’d left it when I grabbed the diaper bag.
OK. I could bus home on my pocket change, and still get the car fixed before the kids finished school. I called for the bus schedule, and saw the bus!
I hung up and chased the bus a half block before it pulled over. Halfway home I realized the apartment keys were in the dead car’s ignition. I still wasn’t worried. A handyman had been working on my place for three days so I wouldn’t be locked out.
He wasn’t there. I asked neighbors; no one had seen him. I sat on the porch with the baby to wait.
It was cold with snow on the ground. I was sitting in snow holding a wiggly, wet toddler. Two hours later… I just cried. The neighbors invited me inside but I just wanted to be alone at that moment of despair.
As I sat, a stranger walked past to visit a neighbor. Minutes later, he returned and introduced himself as Dave, the neighbors having filled him in. suggested I get in his truck to see what we could do. While I was reluctant, my older kids would be out of school and worried I hadn’t picked them up.
After hearing the car’s symptoms, Dave stopped and bought spark plugs and a condenser kit “just in case”. We picked up my older kids. At the car, he ascertained the problem was the coil.
Dave then stuffed myself and my three children into his truck cab, and towed the car to his father’s junkyard. He grabbed a good coil and fixed my car. I offered to pay him. He utterly refused.
He wouldn’t let me pay for the tune up parts, his gas, time or skills. Dave simply made sure I had directions to get home safely, and sent me on my way.
Dave didn’t know me. He had no reason to care. But he gave his time, skills and caring to a stranger on that cold wintry day.