I don't know whether to say this was good or bad, but I'm going to put it in the "It was better than it could have been" category. I think it was also very humbling.
It started at the end of my shift at work tonight, when Chatam came to take over. I had started my car so that it would be warm for my drive home. While we stood having our ritual smoke prior to me leaving, my car jerked and made a noise like it was about to explode. Chatam looked at my car, and then looked at me. I just shrugged...my car does weird things sometimes, plus it hates me.
I got in to drive home and my "service engine" light was on. This really isn't something new, and sometimes it means something, other times it doesn't. I had a half tank of gas, but having had problems lately with dirt in my gas tank, I decided to drive to Speedway and fill up before leaving Xenia.
A block from Speedway, my ABS, oil, and battery lights all came on, and the car died. I'm getting quite used to being stranded on the side of the road lately. It's been happening quite frequently, due to the aforementioned dirt in the gas tank problem.
Understand that Xenia is a racially divided town. Neighborhoods are broken up by ethnicities, and racism runs rampant inside the city walls (okay, the city doesn't really have walls, but it should).
Two cop cars passed me without even stopping to see if I needed help as I struggled to get my car started again sitting on the side of Main Street with my flashers blinking. Finally, after about thirty minutes, a van pulled up behind me, and a middle aged black woman got out and walked up to my car. She asked me if I needed help, or a phone to call someone. I told her that I should be fine, that I've been having this problem with my gas tank a lot lately. Would fuel injection cleaner help, she asked. I shrugged, because I had no idea...I don't know much about cars. She gave her address and directions on how to get to her house. She told me not to stay out in the cold too long, and that if I needed anything, to come to her apartment and she'd help me. I thanked her, and she went on her way.
I worked on trying to start the car for another twenty minutes before deciding to walk to a gas station for a quart of oil...since the oil light was on, even though I knew that wasn't the problem. While at the gas station, I saw fuel injection cleaner. The lady mentioned it, so I figured I'd give it a try. I paid for the oil and fuel injection cleaner, and ran back to my car.
I popped the hood and put the oil in, and while putting the fuel injection cleaner into the gas tank, a cop finally stopped to help me. And then a second cop, followed by a third. I told them I was going to give it a go, but if it didn't start, I'd need a tow. They waited, and then when my car didn't start, one of the officers gave me his cell phone to call AAA.
Now unable to feel my hands and feet, AAA said it would be 60 minutes or less before the tow truck got there. The officers said they couldn't wait that long, but pointed out to me that I was directly across from a Tim Hortons, and that I should go inside there and wait for the tow truck.
I ran across the road, up the hill, and inside Tim Hortons. "Did you walk here?" the Hispanic guy behind the cash register, seemingly the lone employee in the store, asked me.
I explained to him that my car had broken down across the street, and that the cops told me to wait inside of the restaurant for the tow truck. He told me not to worry about anything, that he'd pay for whatever I wanted in the store, and if I wanted to, I could go in back and stand by the oven to warm up. I just asked for a butter caramel hot smoothee, and waited by the window to watch for the tow truck.
An hour passed, and still no tow truck. I finished my drink and ran back down the hill and across the street. Why not, I asked myself. I got into my car, put the key in the ignition, and she started right up. I shut her off and ran back to the gas station to use the payphone and call AAA.
I explained to the operator that I was waiting on a tow, but that my car was running now. "I'll tell you what's going to happen," he said to me, "you're going to get five minutes down the road, and the car'll break down again, then you'll call us back, and you'll have to go back to the end of the line. Drive up and down the side of the road for six to eight minutes and if everything works okay, give us a call back and let us know if you want to cancel the tow."
I ran back to my car, key in ignition, and started her up again. I drove up and down the shoulder of the road for several minutes, and the "Service Engine" light went off. With still no tow truck in sight, I drove over to the gas station, called AAA back, and cancelled the tow.
Not wanting to take a chance on generic gas, I then drove on to Speedway, my original destination, passing the cop who had stopped to let me use his cellphone earlier as he was parked next to Speedway talking to another motorist.
I put $15 of gas in my car, and was just about to get in and drive away when a man approached me from out of nowhere.
"Excuse me brother," he said, "I was wondering if you could help me out?"
"What do you need?" I asked.
"My daughter is in Good Samaritan Hospital, and I'm trying to get there to be with her, but I don't have any money for gas. I have transportation, but I don't have fuel. All I do have is this leather coat I'm wearing. Would you be willing to buy it off of me for $5.00 so that I can get to my daughter?"
I looked at his jacket, and it was nice jacket...the kind of jacket that I'd love to own. I also knew that it was 16 degrees outside, and that man was going to need his coat.
"I can't take your coat," I said, "but I can give you the money."
I reached into my pocket, pulled out the money, and placed it into his hand.
"Thank you so much brother," he said to me, as a tear streamed down his cheek, "God bless you, have a good night."
"Thanks." I replied, as I got back into my car, and started her up to attempt the drive home.
No more problems, and I arrived home around 2 AM (it always seems to be 2 AM...I never break down during the daylight) to find six cop cars here. Why? Someone was shot outside of the apartments around 12:30 AM, approximately the time I would have arrived home, had everything gone according to plan.
Now, I'm a believer in everything happening for a reason, and this just seems to prove that thoroughly. If my car hadn't broken down, well, for one, I wouldn't have gotten a free drink at Tim Hortons, but if that drink hadn't been free, I wouldn't have had money on me, and if I hadn't broken down, I would have been to Speedway and gone, and who's to say that man would have gotten the money to get gas to go see his daughter, or who's to say that he wouldn't have had to sell his coat...and who's to say that if I had gotten home on time, that it wouldn't have been me who got shot tonight? Wow, crazy...it's a lot to digest, and I'm still very humbled by it all at the moment.