It was only 20 more miles that the coolant hose had to hold out, but it just couldn’t – or wouldn’t! After I pulled my car to the shoulder and shut the engine, I pondered the white plumes surrounding the vehicle hoping (and praying), I would not also see flames. I didn’t.
Admonishing myself for not getting my car serviced before I embarked on my Thanksgiving day trip to my mom’s, I opened the hood, and took a look. (As if I was going to be able to do something – ha ha!) The steam finally began to subside, and as I began thinking of where I’d have AAA tow the thing, a vehicle suddenly pulled over.
I swear the tall figure that got out of that Ford Bronco, and started walking toward me, was moving in slow motion, as if in a fantasy scene from so many movies we’ve all seen. The man reached me and my car, handed me a gallon container of engine coolant and said, “You’ll need this!” How did he know already?
We finally located the problem, and proceeded with the repair triage. It was arduous, at best, especially with all the hot fluid, and the minimalist spacing in a foreign car engine compartment for even regular size hands to navigate. And both of us having good sized hands, of course. We finally cut a piece from a ball point pen cartridge, finagled it into the torn hose connection, invoking a crude version of Auto Shop 101, taped it up, and turned over the engine. Success!
Conveniently, we shared the same destination, and this Good Samaritan offered to follow me all the way in to make sure I arrived safely. Such a nice guy that he wouldn’t shake my extended hand, as he felt his was too soiled from the task we had just completed – mine was almost as dirty as his. And of course, he would not accept the money I offered him for the anti-freeze. So we just fist-bumped and both headed east – 20, hopefully short, miles to go.
Nineteen, 18, 17 miles more – all systems go. Sixteen, 15, 14 – temperature gauge off again. Thirteen, 12, 11 – small puffs of smoke. Ten, 9, 8, – LOTS of puffs of smoke. Seven, 6, 5, 4 – wafts of steam clouds. Is this the longest it has ever taken me to drive this stretch of highway? Three, 2, 1 – last traffic light. My new acquaintance pulls up alongside me to ask if I think I’ll make it. I assure him the last few hundred yards are doable. And they were.
It is often comforting to arrive at one’s mother’s house, especially on Thanksgiving, but this day had become something special. A mini-disaster (or at least a royal pain in the butt), turned into an affirmation of the goodness of man. A stranger taking it upon himself to take time from his own holiday and help a fellow life-traveler. A simple and selfless act of which to be most thankful indeed. I wish I could be that generous and helpful to a stranger. Perhaps now I will be so inspired sometime in the future.
Everyone should experience a Thanksgiving day (and every other day) as wonderful as the one I had this year.