Modern Chivalry

by The Mom

I’m close to 40, raised old fashioned, and frequently mourn the loss of a time when people took care of one another. I wonder if my three sons will be the gentlemen I try to raise them to be.

Mid October, 2010 I had to get my youngest son from school drama practice. I buckled my daughter in her car seat and took off like a herd of turtles. First stop: the closest air pump as I had a tire going flat. I filled the tire with my last dollar.

Once out of the gas station, POP!, the van jerked, then thump, thump, thump. Sigh. The tire is 100% flat and I’m out of cash. OK, I can change a tire.

Modern Chivalry However… the l’il one has been sick since she was born and when she’s *this* sick, I can’t leave her unattended beyond a couple minutes. I have to be ready to assist her with any problems. AAA phone call done, I wait for my temporary champion in a tow truck and grease-smeared hands to help change the flat.

I call my son and husband to inform them of the delay. I put the cell down and get scared half to death: someone is beating on my window.

It’s a young African American man. I freak because where I’m broke down is not the best place for safety. He asks if I need help. I nervously told him I have assistance coming. The area — not the person — made me nervous, he was well-mannered and polite.

His response, “Yeah, but I’m here NOW!” I took all the factors into consideration. Sick child, another child stranded, husband working too far away to help, van on a busy street, still half an hour wait for AAA.

I thanked him and told him I couldn’t afford to pay him.

He chortled and told me he didn’t ask for money.

Together we worked to replace the tire with the spare. He did the majority of it, since I had to watch my daughter. In under 15 minutes he had me ready to drive. When I asked him his name, he said Tracey. I thanked him appreciatively for the help he had given. He walked off before I could say anything else. I passed him a minute later, and waved thank you again as he smiled and waved back.

I seriously thought chivalry was dead. Here a young man, young enough to be my son, stopped to help a complete stranger out of the blue, for no reason at all.

Now I know I might not ever get to tell Tracey’s family they should be proud of their boy. But I can put this story out there, in hopes it might reach them. I can be grateful for Tracey showing me something I needed to learn, and giving me a little more hope about today’s young men.

Thank you, Tracey, your actions meant a great deal to me.

Originally published as HeroicStories #826 on May 13, 2011

5 thoughts on “Modern Chivalry”

  1. I think that we do not always believe in our young people. In spite of what is shown in the media, the majority are nice people of whom we all should be proud.

  2. This story reminded me of another hero in the middle of Wyoming when I had a blow-out doing about 70 mph. I was in a big ole’ Thunderbird and was able to guide it to the median, where my hero came along, changed the tire and followed me to the next exit. They were few and far between and the spare was somewhat under inflated.

    They are still out there, those gentle people.

  3. Very moving story. Don’t look at a book by its cover. What got me on the story was you have to pay to put air in the tyre. In Australia it is FREE.

  4. Very moving story. I suppose in America there is a big fear of other races and trust. here over in Australia that is not a real problem. Also astonished that you have to pay for ar. Again air is free to top up the tyre. same as water for radiator.

  5. Yes paying for air – what a shock, in SA it is and always has been free. Indeed, some tyre (not tire! that’s what happens when you’ve been working hard d for a long time, you get TIREd!) fitment centres (…not centers. I digress) inflate with nitrogen and will top up with notrogen, for free, for the life of your tyres.

    I don’t think it is about old-fashioned though. I think it’s about the everyday hero out there – when I first read this story I also felt, what a shame that we have to remark on this, it should be automatic, what has the world come to, blah blah, but I remember hearing stories 40 years ago about people being mugged or taken advantage of when they were at their most vulnerable, and changing a wheel really does leave you exposed to all manner of scoundrel.

    And I also told myself that of course I would have been that hero, and changed the wheel for the damsel in distress – but then I remembered at least a couple of occasions when I could have done exactly that and didn’t, for some excuse or another. Yeah, yeah, so I was late for an appintment – well when am I not? So “could have” and “did” are two very different things. I think we need to try remember that when confronted with an opportunity to be the good samaritan – the road to hell being paved with, etc etc.


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