Last Sunday was freezing cold in the Twin Cities. If I remember correctly, to that point, it was the coldest day of the year with the wind chill factor making it feel as if it were -25 degrees.
Whether my memory is exactly correct on the number doesn’t matter. What does is that it was really stinking cold outside.
Sunday morning, the kids and I woke up and got ready slowly on a lazy Sunday, as I was going to drop them off to their mother and then watch the Minnesota Vikings playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. It is on days as cold as this one where I am happy my car is allowed to park in a garage in the new apartment, but as I took the kids to their Mom’s, I felt something off with the car. It wasn’t driving as it normally does.
We arrived safely and I waited outside in the car until the kids were inside the warm confines of their Mom’s place and then drove off. At this point, the car had begun to drive normally again, so I chalked up the earlier oddity to the freezing cold weather and didn’t think anything of it. My focus was now on preparing myself to send all good vibes I had to the Vikings and, hopefully, cheering them on to a victory.
I don’t feel there is any need to discuss how the game actually turned out, other than to say two quick things. One, laces out…and two, doesn’t matter if laces weren’t out, make the dang 27-yard field goal.
Ok, I feel better now.
Out of nowhere, the car began to shake incredibly badly, including the steering wheel, which scared me. Immediately, I was working on pulling to the side of the road to investigate what was going on, but in the process of trying to get over (which, at most, was a block), I heard an explosion and the car was immediately pulling hard to the right. I was able to get over and stepped out of the car to investigate.
As expected, I had blown out the passenger side front tire…on a freezing cold day…with very little funds to my name for the next couple of days, as I continue to adjust to my new life.
I was not happy, but although I was stressed out immediately, trying to figure out how to handle this situation I now found myself in, I did my best to take deep breaths and remain as calm as possible. What helped me remain in the right state of mind was to remind myself it was much better this happened now, rather than when my children were with me…only minutes ago. Thankfully, they were nice and warm and safe.
I, literally, know nothing about cars. I’m just happy I know where to put the wiper fluid and gas and, knowing it’s a ridiculous fact, I have never changed a tire in my life. Yet, as I called for help and sat on this side of the road for approximately 15 minutes, it was lovely to have three different cars of people stop and ask me if I needed help, most of them seeming to be on their way to wherever they were headed to watch the Vikings game, bundled up with a lot of purple and gold.
I thanked everyone who stopped for doing so, but let them know I did have help coming to me and they went on their way…one even yelling back at me before getting into his car, “Skol, Vikings!”
After a few more cold minutes, a car pulled up behind me that I recognized. It was not a friend of mine or even the help I had called for, but it was the first person who had stopped to see if I needed help only 10 minutes ago. He had returned.
This man, Richard—whom I estimate to be in his 60s and whom had pulled up next to me before with his wife in the car to see if I was ok—drove off after I told him I had help on the way, dropped his wife off at home and told her he felt compelled to come back and help me, especially due to how cold it was outside.
As Richard and I spoke, he said to me, “Here’s what I’m willing to do, kid. You get this car to the shop and I will pay to have the tire replaced. You pay me back when you are able.”
Of course, the pessimist inside me who I am trying to get rid of made an appearance in my brain and I couldn’t help but wonder what the “catch” was in this deal. Yet, he did seem genuine in his offer of help, giving me his phone number and telling me once the car was at the shop to have the person behind the counter call him.
Once the car was at the shop, I did exactly that and prompted the man behind the counter to give Richard a call. Only hearing the one side of the conversation, I could tell Richard was, in fact, giving the man his credit card information and paying for the tire as he had promised. Then, I heard the man behind the counter say, “Yes, he’s here. He’s standing right here.”
He then handed the phone to me and Richard immediately said, “Here’s what I need you to do, kid. Get a piece of paper and a pen.”
I followed his instruction. He then proceeded to give me his address in Florida, as he and his wife were leaving in a couple days to escape the bitter cold Minnesota winter and would be down in Florida for a while. He said the money for the repair to my car really didn’t matter to him, but he wanted to test MY honor and told me to send him the money whenever I am able to do so.
What he said next absolutely floored me, even after already being amazed at this man’s kindness to a complete stranger.
He said, “There’s one more thing I need you to do for me, kid.”
Again, the pessimist in my head makes an appearance and I begin to think, “OK, HERE’S where the catch in this deal comes around.”
Richard continues by saying, “I want you to take this as a lesson, kid. Help people when you can, do good in the world. So, the next time you see someone in need of help, whether sitting on the side of the road or in any situation, help them. THAT is what I need you to do for me.”
After agreeing to his deal, I thanked him from my soul for his help and told him to expect his money as soon as possible. With that, we hung up the phone and I haven’t heard from him since.
You guys…there are good people out there. NEVER forget that. There are times in all of our lives where it is easy to become depressed when things go badly in our lives or to become numb with the monotony of daily life. It doesn’t have to be that way if we are always doing our best to look out for those people we care about and those we may not have even met before, which is the lesson I learned from Richard through this experience.
One of two things happened last week. I either met an angel named Richard or I met one of the most kind-hearted men ever. Either way, it was an amazing experience and lesson to re-learn…and I thank him for being my teacher last week.