by Laura Sosnowski
In 1995 I broke my left foot on a bike ride. I could still drive, so kept up my busy life despite the cast and crutches. One Sunday I drove to a picnic in a forest preserve an hour from home, in my comfy, but unreliable, white Skyhawk.
The picnic was great, with good food, good friends, laughter, and good weather. Late in the afternoon I said goodbye and began my drive home. I took the scenic route through West Chicago, a tiny town about 25 miles west of Chicago proper. Everything closes down on Sunday there, driving through you wonder if anyone even lives there.
As I started up a bridge the Skyhawk started to jerk. The car’s alternator was mounted with only one bolt, which occasionally loosened, eventually resulting in the car’s battery dying. I thought, Not now, not here!
The car died. I rolled backwards onto the gravel shoulder for safety, and pulled the emergency brake. Of course it was starting to get dark. If I got out to walk, where would I go? And on crutches?
How long before a car would come by, and would they stop to help? It would be one very expensive tow to my hometown mechanic.
Then I saw a house right there at the bottom of the bridge, with a family outside having a picnic of their own! Some of them were looking in my direction; some were clearing away the apparently completed picnic meal. I couldn’t get down the dip off the road into their gravel driveway with crutches, so I got out, leaned on the car and waved one crutch over my head.
Their response was immediate. Three people ran up to the car to see what I needed. I told them my story and they leapt into action. If finding them outside wasn’t lucky enough, this was the home of the family who owned the in-town auto mechanic shop, just one block away. They promised to tow the car to their shop, fix it the next morning, and call when it was finished.
That was too good to be true, yet I still needed to get home. One woman asked me where I lived and I told her. West Chicago is about 45 minutes from my home, and I couldn’t ask her to drive me. It turned out she lived in the town next to mine.
I couldn’t ask her to leave the party because of me, but she insisted she was leaving now anyway. Unbelievable luck again, I had a ride and she refused to take any gas money for her trouble. I was so grateful.
I was delivered safely home. The car was fixed the next day as promised. The bill was reasonable, and they attached a second bolt to the alternator so the problem was fixed forever. I was so grateful I sent a thank you note.
I’m still amazed at how very kind and honest they all were.