This is the true story of how a bad day became a pretty good day thanks to one act of kindness.
On Saturday morning, I thought I would join my sons in their weekly viewing of English Premier League soccer. They record a game or two and have breakfast together while watching the games. I don’t normally go, but I had nothing to do on Saturday morning, so I though I’d join them.
So, I’m on my way to my son’s place, cruising down the Anthony Henday in my 1997 Lumina. The Lumina has lately been showing every one of its 210,000 km; its rust spots have rust, the muffler does very little muffling, the windshield is cracked like thin ice on a pond after you step on it, heat is a hit-or-miss affair (more miss than hit), it leaks a wide range of fluids, the transmission light is always on, the signal lights take a very specific, quite delicate maneuver to operate, etc. Those of you who have driven cars past their best-before date can relate.
But for all of the problems it has, the Lumina always, somehow, runs. It starts, it gets me to where I want to go (which isn’t far), and it gets me back. But lately, the engine has been balky. It has been losing power and a sounding lot like a pack-a-day smoker in the morning. Still, I figure, once I get it running, it runs.
So, off I went for my soccer breakfast with the boys. Halfway to my son’s place, on the Henday just past the Cameron Heights turnoff, it starts to make some very bad noises. My usual solution — turn up the radio to drown out the noise — doesn’t work. Worse yet, it’s really starting to lose power. I try to encourage it to go, but it won’t. I pull over to the shoulder, where it dies. I bring all of my mechanical knowledge to bear (which is none), to no effect. I am screwed.
Oh, did I mention I don’t have a phone, neither smart nor cell? I have one, but I let my wife use it in case of emergencies. Funny, I never pictured myself as the emergency victim.
Assessing the situation, with cars whizzing by me at 100 km/h, my only option appears to be to walk back home. Trudging back on the side of the Henday, with hundreds of vehicles screaming past me, each one leaving behind a little whirlwind of cold air, I see the sign that reads: Callingwood Road 4.5 km. And I’d already been walking for about 20 minutes. And after getting to Callingwood Road, it’s at least another 20 minutes to home.
Oh. My. God. I am in no shape for a multi-km walk along side a noisy, dirty highway. But my options are limited.
Cursing my fate — and I do mean cursing — I notice a car pull over to the side of the road ahead of me. My first thought is, “some poor sap has the same problem I have”. But it wasn’t some poor sap, but a Good Samaritan. This is where my bad day suddenly turned pretty good.
The Good Sam was a guy named Scott, who works at a plant in Leduc. He was on his way home from work (which started at something like 4 am) when he saw my disabled Lumina on the side of the road in the opposite direction. Carrying on, he saw this forlorn figure (that would be me, looking forlorn) on the other side of the road. Now, Scott could have just carried on to his home after a long day at work, but no. He took the next overpass, turned around, and picked me up. Not only that, he drove me all the way to my house.
What prompts someone to go to that kind of effort to help a stranger? Well, as Scott told me, he has a good experience with a stalled vehicle. As I recall (my details may be a little fuzzy here, so apologies to Scott), the story goes that Scott was out quading or four-by-fouring or some sort of recreational vehicle pastime with some friends, when his vehicle broke down. He has to walk a ways back, accompanied by a girl who he turned out to have a lot in common with. The walk-and-talk went so well, they eventually married! So, I guess some good can come from a broken down car.
As Scott said, he believes in karma, and the whole ‘pay it forward’ idea that you should do a good deed for someone in the hopes that they will do a good deed for someone else. His good deed was to go out of his way to pick up a complete stranger and drive him to his house. As a thank you to this guy I’d never met, I will return the favor — or some sort of favor — to some poor shlub in a bind.
So thank you, Scott, for helping to turn a terrible day into one that was slightly less terrible. Oh, and the Lumina? A broken camshaft, or something like that, so it’s finished. I’m now stuck with a useless pile of metal and the prospect of getting another car. Normally, I would say ‘this sucks’, which it does. But the kindness of a stranger made this miserable day a little less sucky.
(PS: Anybody know good place that takes away dead cars, and/or anyone who has a good used car for sale?)