It was raining, hard, as I drove from Duluth back to the Twin Cities. Road construction meant one-lane driving for miles. I was listening to “A Tale of Two Cities” on CD, with the volume on “high” to drown on the sound of rain and uneven pavement.
Finally, the road construction ended at the same time the rain lessened. But something wasn’t right. The loud sound I thought was due to uneven pavement continued…even though I was back on normal interstate pavement.
My alarm increased when I noticed the smell of burning rubber. I pulled off to the shoulder. Immediately, the Ford Focus behind me did the same. A young man in his late twenties jumped out of his car and ran up toward me. “You’ve got a flat,” he announced. “I’ve been following you for miles, trying to get your attention. Do you have a spare?”
I didn’t know; I was driving a rental car (that is another story). We opened the trunk; there it was, along with the lug wrench and car jack. In what seemed like 30 seconds, he’d removed the flat tire and replaced it with the spare.
He said he was heading home to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday after spending the day in Duluth. He was an insurance salesperson, he said. When he learned my husband, now retired, had taught fifth-grade, he said that his fifth-grade teacher, and others, had made a huge impact on his life. “I came from a broken home,” he said. “These teachers reached out and kept me from getting in trouble. So now I pay it forward.”
In a moment, he was gone. And there I stood, very grateful that this person and I had literally crossed paths that day. Our encounter left me with a feeling of wonder. The young man in the Ford Focus gave me a lift alright…a spiritual lift, a reminder that helping others is the surest way to a sense of something good, larger than ourselves.
I’m reminded to look for one opportunity to help someone else today…anonymously or not. Just one act of kindness, big or small. How about you?