I wrote this post a LOOOOOONG time ago, in February of 2012. But I wanted to publish it now. Because I like it 🙂
Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
– Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire
I play ‘almost running out of gas’ roulette all the time. And I always win. Until today.
It is now:
I needed gas last night. I REALLY needed it today. I was heading to the DMV (this day continued a saga of trying to get a driver’s license in Virginia) left the house to go get gas, but I forgot to put in my contacts. I was going to the DMV, and was going to get an eye exam, I turned around and got my contacts.
I embarked on my journey again. This time I was behind a woman on a handicapped scooter – I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable, because there wasn’t room to pass and she was on the street, not the sidewalk, so I went a few blocks out of my way.
Finally, I’m making a u-turn into the gas station – on a pretty highly trafficked road in Alexandria, VA (Hwy 1 or Jefferson Davis Hwy for anyone that knows the area). Then my truck (it’s really an old Ford Explorer, nicknamed by one of my friends ‘the green beast’, but I like to use ‘truck’) quits – right as I am blocking 2 lanes of oncoming traffic. Awesome.
I throw it in neutral, and jump out to push. Pushing your car while steering – not easy. I was running back and forth from the back bumper to the steering wheel (oddly it did not occur to me to push FROM the driving side door). As I’m pushing people are staring at me from their cars. They aren’t yelling or laughing – but they also aren’t making a move to help me. I wasn’t upset about pushing my truck myself – but I am logical enough to realize that when pushing a vehicle – 2 is always better than one.
I got it turned around rest of the way – pointing in the right direction before a guy came to help me and told me to steer. Unfortunately, I was doing better pushing that he was (I played offensive line in the women’s version of the NFL – more on that later – point being we move large things). Pretty quickly another man came to help.
We push my truck up to the pump – they run back to their cars as I chase after them trying to say thank you.
Next debacle: the explorer was on the wrong side of the pump, AND I was at a diesel pump. I didn’t really want anyone else to have to help me push, nor did I want to maneuver it around a gas station with all the pumps and cars pushing by myself. That seemed like it would become a Frogger nightmare – I could already see me slamming into someone’s car.
It was a teeny tiny gas station that didn’t have a gas can, so I walked across the street to Target and got one. I got back to the gas station and was trying to assemble it as a woman came up and asked if I could move my car because she needed to get to the diesel pump. I laughed told her that I would LOVE to move my car, but it was a bit stuck. I continued to say I be more than happy to push my car back, but it would be really helpful if she would steer. So she helped me push it back and ended up helping me get my truck to a pump I could use.
As she was helping me, 2 other men ran up to help. I filled up my car and was on my way.
This got me thinking about the kindness of strangers. I experienced this a lot when I was hiking the AT this year (more on that later too). There are trail angels, amazing people who provide trail magic, or random acts of kindness for hikers. In each town that the trail goes through, residents give hikers rides, meals, and showers. Some are hikers themselves, some are just amazing people looking for an outlet to help others.
Today, I am very thankful for the kindness of strangers and am looking forward to paying it forward. It’s easy to forget how great people are. It would have been easy to get frustrated about this – and let it ruin my day. I did not make it to the DMV that day. The experience was pretty positive. And I’m pretty lucky to not have run out of gas before.
I would love to hear about the last time you helped someone who you didn’t know or the last time someone helped you.
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