A few hot and humid summer days ago, I invited my sister to join me at a local trail for a running date. Since she doesn’t really like to run (can you believe that?), I offered to bring my bike along so she could ride next to me. Little did I know, the journey I was about to embark on was much different than what I had planned.
Taking a bike out required some preparation, as in unearthing it from our basement, dusting off the cobwebs (yuck), checking the air pressure in the tires, adding air if needed (it was), and carefully hoisting it into the back of my husband’s truck without scraping it or myself in the process. All the while sweating like a fool in 90+ temperatures.
A fleeting thought crossed my mind: I should probably text my husband and make sure it’s a good idea to take the truck out.
Let’s talk about our truck for a moment: I’m not a big fan of driving it and only do so when absolutely necessary. While it’s been a reliable vehicle despite it’s nearly 200,000-mile 10-year-old frame, we retired it a few years ago to only carrying loads that won’t fit it in our cars. One of the very few times it gave us trouble was a week ago when it needed a new alternator. Once installed, all was good again in the world.
Eager to get going, I pushed that thought aside, and continued on my mission. As I opened the door to climb into the preheated oven truck, I hopped up into the driver’s seat, a cloud of dust welcoming me. I rolled the windows down, start the engine, and head off on my way. I reached for the radio only to be greeted with more silence. Hmm…the panel is showing it’s working, so where is the sound? I turned the volume knob to no avail, and ended up switching it off because I needed both hands at all times to drive this thing.
About six miles from home, I reached a busy stretch in the downtown area. As I accelerated, I noticed the truck just didn’t want to go. As in, the more I pressed the gas pedal, the less it moved. Uh oh. I pulled over quickly, and it suddenly got a second wind. I pulled out after a moment, and continue down the road. And there it is again. It slowed down on its own while I pressed on, and suddenly lights started to illuminate on the dashboard. Ahh! I have to get this thing home before it dies in the middle of the city’s main drag! I took the next turn onto a side street, and down an alley to the next street, and just as I approached a red light, the truck took it’s final breath and stalls. I quickly braked hard and put it in Park. I waited a few seconds and attempted to start it. Nothing. Great!
It gets better. Directly to my right is a local strip club, and to my left, a coffee shop full of elderly people who most likely walked given the absence of vehicles nearby.
I immediately searched for jumper cables only to come up empty-handed. I called my husband, then my dad, neither of them answering their phones. I then called my sister and tell her what’s going on, and that our trail date has been compromised. She offered to try and find my dad, while I called my mom, who laughs and tells me to “just run home.” Amused, I informed her that wouldn’t be problem except for the whole “dead truck in the middle of the main road” thing. My husband then called me back to tell me the jumper cables are in his car, but wouldn’t work anyway because he needs a new battery.
“I thought I told you.”
“Uh, no…you didn’t.”
I couldn’t be upset given I had just ignored my inner voice telling me to check with him first. He told me to find someone who can help me push the truck off the road. Are you kidding me? My strength is in my legs, certainly not my scrawny arms. He offered to leave work to come and pick me up, but I declined, telling him to let me see what my dad can do first.
The heat was officially on. Literally. It was 94 degrees and not a cloud in the sunny sky. And there I was. Stuck in front of a strip club in a stuffy, dusty, dead ol’ truck.
I started to laugh at my misfortune. How’d I get so lucky? At least I wasn’t on my way to work or anything pressing.
When I finally got a hold of my dad, he offered to come and push me out of the road until we can get the truck serviced. While I waited, I see two men across the street pointing at me. Probably wondering what the heck I’m doing just sitting in the middle of the street. One of them crosses the street and walks up to my truck, asking me if I had called anyone. I told him that I had, and he points across the street to a parking lot next to a motorcycle shop, saying I can park there until I can get it fixed. My dad and uncle arrive, and he repeats to them what he told me. I told them the engine was barely turning over, and I would have to get through the traffic to get there. The nice man offered to stop the traffic for us, and so it began.
Heart pounding, I managed to steer the tight and difficult wheels while my dad and uncle pushed me and the sleeping truck across the road and into the parking lot. Of a motorcycle shop/hangout. Full of bikers who started streaming out to see what the commotion was all about.
One of the bikers offered to charge the battery enough for me to get the truck home, and we stood around for a few minutes trying to decipher what the problem might be. Battery. Alternator. You know, car talk that I only partially understood.
My dad laughed and told me to ride my bike home, to which I replied I only run up hills, not bike. He then offered to drive me home, and I told him I would rather wait and see if the charge worked. The bikers offered for me to come sit inside and have pizza with them while I waited, and while it was tempting to ride off with my dad, I felt it would be rude not to accept the invitation. Minus the pizza. Way too hot to eat, and I had just had pepperoni rolls two hours earlier. My dad took off, and we all went inside.
I was completely out of place in my pink and purple running gear in the midst of black Ts, leather, and chains. Then I spotted their puppy and was immediately comfortable. Funny how animals fix everything. I spent half an hour hanging out in their shop with them, talking, answering questions, and petting the puppy. We shared our cat pictures on our phones, and told stories of our animal rescues.
Before I knew it, it was time to check the charging battery, and sure enough, the truck started up right away. I asked them how much I owed them and they waved me off. I thanked them wholeheartedly, and headed down the road towards home, praying I didn’t stall out again. Thankfully, I didn’t. I made it home, jumped in my car, and headed back out to meet my sister for our trail date, chuckling to myself that she was now going to have to run instead of bike.
I am one of those people who never hesitates to help anyone who needs it, but I rarely run into others like me. Which is really sad when I think about it. I don’t keep score of all I’ve done, but I do have many fond memories of the happiness and gratitude on the faces of those I’ve reached. Especially this one that will be etched in my mind and heart forever. But on that hot summer day, while it was a little out of my comfort zone to be on the receiving end, it was refreshing. Now when I drive past that shop each day, I have a new view. Both because it’s nice to know there are such other kind, helpful souls out there, and because the whole situation was just comical. Priceless.
I’d love to hear about your random acts of kindness, whether you were the driver or the recipient.