As some of you may know, about two months ago I purchased a car of my very own. My previous car, generously passed on by my older sister, had been a wonderful, reliable vehicle until it finally bit the dust earlier this year. When I was looking for a new(to me) car, I knew that I wanted a Subaru. So that’s what I got. It was a little older and with a little more miles than I would have liked, but it was in my price range and it was a Subaru, so I went for it. My relationship with Donatello (like the Ninja Turtle) has been rocky to say the least. I still love Subarus, and I think Donatello is the bomb, but it seems like I keep running into headache after headache. Oil leak here, randomly not starting there, broken spedometer and odomoter, you get the picture. This past week in particular has been especially hellacious for me and Donatello, but that’s not really what this is about. This is about the countless wonderful people that I encountered amidst some very frustrating situations.
Incident #1: Last Saturday I was driving to White Bluff, TN to help with Grace Community Church’s middle school camp. I stopped for gas and a snack at a random gas station somewhere near Shelbyville. When I went to get back on the road, Donatello struggled to start up, and then slowly sputtered to a halt right at the edge of the gas station driveway. I struggled to revive him for several minutes before admitting that something had to be done. I went inside and asked one of the gas station clerks if he could maybe help me push the car to a safe parking spot, which he happily did. As we pushed my car to safety, and I wondered what in the world I was going to do, considering where the nearest bus station might be or how long it might take me to walk the remaining 60 miles, I finally looked next door to see Arrington Auto Care, right next door. It was a small, Mom and Pop style shop. I spotted a fella that might best be described as a “good ole boy” out working on a big semi-truck.
I sheepishly asked him for help, and he willingly obliged. The rather large fella hopped on a rather small ATV, and rode it the 50 yards over to my car. He then spent the next thirty minutes bent over the hood of my car, examining and re-examining everything that could possibly be causing the problem. Throughout the conversation we talked about where I was headed, what my church was like, and even some cool insights about God. He couldn’t find anything, and finally resorted to letting the engine relax for 20 minutes, and giving it another try. He had me turn the key in the ignition and pushed the throttle until my engine finally roared to life. He shook my hand, said “God Bless” and sent me on my way. I made it to camp safely.
Incident #2: After a pretty exhausting week of camp, I was driving back to Chattanooga and thought I would reward myself with a classy meal at the always delicious Taco Bell in Manchester, TN. After my wonderful meal, I got back in my car and…oh no. Same exact thing as on my way to camp. I could not have been more annoyed. I was supposed to be at work in just a couple hours, and did not want to be stranded in Manchester. As I stood over the open hood of my car, pretending like I would be able to figure anything out, a younger guy drove by and asked if I needed help. He quickly hopped out of his truck and started fiddling with different parts Donatello’s engine. He didn’t see anything right off, and quickly called one of his buddies to see if he could help. Before I knew it, there were 4 different guys, from all different walks of life, looking over my car, trying to figure out what was causing me so much grief. Some of those guys spent almost a half an hour helping me out. Not only were they super generous with their time, but they were also incredibly friendly. Although they couldn’t figure anything out, I offered to at least buy them some lunch, which they graciously declined and offered a suggestion of where to get my car towed.
I went back into the Taco Bell, where I called and waited for a tow truck to come rescue me. As I sat there waiting, I sent out a general plea for help in a group message with my BYX brothers, thinking I would probably need a ride the rest of the way to Chattanooga, or at least a place to crash for the night until I could get my car fixed. Within a matter of minutes, one of my brothers had called me offering some advice on how to find a bus or a form of transportation back to Chattanooga, and even offering to find a friend from Nashville to pick me up. Another one of my brothers who happened to live in the area was willing to pick me up and have me over for dinner with his family and stay the night if need be. I was still stressed about the car, but could not have been more thankful for the love and support of my brothers. It is such a blessing to have a group of guys who have your back like that.
The tow truck guy pulled into the parking lot, and right before he set it up to be towed, he tried out the key in the ignition, and wouldn’t you know it, it started right up. Instead of shaking his head in annoyance, or complaining about me wasting his time, he followed me to an AutoZone where we added in some oil and he did whatever he could to get the car ready for the rest of the trip. He gave me his personal cell phone number, a firm handshake, and sent me on my way. The rest of my trip went perfectly fine.
Incident #3: Today as I left work, praying that my car would start up, I was thrilled to find that I had a flat tire. However, I at least found out in a joyful way. Somebody left me this on my car:
It was a note breaking the news to me that I had a flat tire, apologizing to me for the bad luck, and wishing me luck with the rest of my day. They also included this giant thing of bubbles with the added message, “Hope these bubbles can cheer you up!” It was simply signed, Suzanne. I’m not sure who Suzanne is, or why she felt like bubbles are what I needed to feel better, but I literally could not have been more grateful. It was a small gesture, but it was loving, and kind, and generous.
After I admired the kindness of Suzanne, I started rummaging around the trunk of Donatello, wondering if I even had what I needed to change a tire. I found a tire jack, and a spare tire, but no tire iron to loosen the lug nuts. I started weighing my options, wondering who I could call to come help me out. I then was thankful to see an older couple sitting on their porch about thirty feet from my car. I walked over, explained the situation, and asked if they might have a tire iron I could borrow. The gentleman went inside, and came out a few minutes later wielding a giant tool kit in one hand and a tire iron in the other. He didn’t just give me the tools and walk off. No, he stood by and walked me through every single step of the process, until my spare tire was finally ready to go. I thanked him, we introduced ourselves, shook hands, and went our separate ways.
I’m a little annoyed by how many things have gone wrong with my car in such a short amount of time. However, more than that, I am overwhelmed by the goodness and generosity of so many people. Each of these situations would have been a heck of a lot worse if it weren’t for the selfless, kind-hearted people that I encountered along the way. When you watch the news, it can be easy to get cynical about the nature of people, or to think that the world is just going downhill. But each of these people served as a reminder of the goodness that can be found in this world. I’m thankful for each one of these encounters, and for the beauty that was revealed in so many different shapes and forms and personalities. It was a great reminder that sometimes, most of the time really, people are just great. Now hopefully it won’t always take a broken down car for me to see the goodness in people.