Amy K. Brown
Everett, Washington, USA

My husband, our then 2-year-old son, and I had just come out of our local grocery store late one evening in November 1998. The cart was full, it was pouring freezing rain, and we desperately wanted nothing more than to get baby and groceries home and dry.

LockoutTo our horror, we found our keys locked in the car. We had no spare, and we didn’t have the money to call a locksmith after our monthly shopping. I tried calling a local friend for help at a pay phone while my poor husband attempted to unlock the car with a coat hanger for nearly 45 minutes.

A young man came out of the store in a hurry, and I quickly asked him if he knew anything about car locks. After I explained the problem, he rushed over to help my husband while I watched his things and tried to keep our baby warm. Finally he returned, cell phone in hand, and called the local police station for assistance, telling me they couldn’t open the door, but that the police used to help people in this situation.

The police dispatcher told him they weren’t legally allowed to do that anymore, and to just call a tow truck. He angrily hung up and told us the bad news, then sincerely apologized as he told us he had to leave. We thanked him for his attempts to help and kept trying to open the car ourselves.

Right as we were about to give up, I saw a tow truck parked at a nearby restaurant, and quickly asked my husband to go flag him down. The truck came over to us and the driver said as he easily opened the lock, “it must be your lucky day!” he told us.

We put our baby and food in the car, then asked him how much we owed him, all the while dreading his answer as our funds were short. To our surprise he said with a big smile, “not a thing. This guy flagged me down over there and asked how much it cost to open a locked car. I said $20. He handed me a $20 and told me where to find you.”

I was so shocked and thankful that all I could do was stand there in the rain and cry.

We hear tales of good Samaritans helping others in need, but never thought it would happen to us. The tow truck driver had been just as surprised, but very happy to help, and as my family drove home we lamented not knowing the man’s name to thank him for his incredible kindness.

Originally published as HeroicStories #21 on June 19, 1999

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