Nov 27, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
When asked, “What are you thankful for?” most people respond with some variation of “my wonderful family and friends.”
I am no different, but this Thanksgiving I got to add to the list: “Kind strangers.”
My Sunday before Thanksgiving was always going to be a busy one. It was to start with the 8:45 and 11 a.m. services at DeWitt Community Church — I began singing in the choir as bass soloist/section leader this past September — and continue with a 2:30 p.m. rehearsal and 4 p.m. service at Bethany Baptist Church in DeWitt, where we would join the church’s gospel choir in worship and song. I would have to say “no thanks” to the dinner being generously offered by Bethany Baptist, in order to give myself time to get back to Eastwood and lay out the week’s edition of the Eagle Bulletin.
It was sure to be an enriching day, and I was very much looking forward to the two hours that separated the services at DCC and the rehearsal at Bethany Baptist, which would allow me to run home to my James Street apartment to make lunch and catch a breather.
Thanks to some impromptu car trouble, these hours ended up being the day’s most eventful.
On my way home from the second DCC service, I decided to stop at Ollie’s Bargain Outlets on Erie Boulevard. It was on the way, and as I’m new to apartment living, I needed a few things.
After a quick run through Ollie’s, I was back in my car. When I turned the key, the engine didn’t turn over. Some lights went on, and the air conditioning was still running, leading me to believe I had run out of gas.
With time against me — it was now 12:30 and I had to be at Bethany Baptist by 2:30 — I called my roommate, Jake.
He was quick to return my call, and within 20 minutes had picked me up at Ollie’s, driven me to the nearby Sunoco to pick up a can of gas, and dropped me off at my car. I told him I’d take it from here, and he was off.
One gallon of fuel later, my car was even less responsive. I turned the key and absolutely nothing happened. My battery was dead.
Being that my car’s hood was parked in on all sides, I resolved to waiting for any nearby driver to return to their vehicle. Within five minutes, a woman came out of Ollie’s to the car parked directly in front of mine. I almost missed her.
“Excuse me!” I piped up, with my car door half open, pausing to think of how to phrase my request most effectively. “My car… do you have a second? My car needs a jump.”
“Sorry, I don’t,” was all she could say before retreating into Ollie’s. She returned with a grocery cart of supplies, avoiding eye contact with me as I leaned my back against the side of my car, jumper cables in hand. I was hoping she would reconsider, but was fine waiting for her to pack up her car and move it from the spot so another less hurried driver could pull in and assist me.
And then, after loading her car, she disappeared into the liquor store.
I again turned to my roommate, thinking he might not mind driving out again, but mostly out of desperation, seeking guidance. He suggested I look for someone driving a truck, because they “are always willing to jump your car.”
Not five minutes later, a man in a white pickup truck pulled up kitty corner to my white Hyundai Accent.
The man, whose name I didn’t get to ask, was more than happy to help me out of a jam — he jumped at the opportunity. He didn’t hesitate to move his car into the spot next to mine, which had just become vacant, in order to get his truck’s battery close enough for my short jumper cables to reach.
The errand that had brought him to the plaza would come second to helping a stranger; his 10-year-old daughter looked on with pride from inside the truck.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been on either side of a jump, but it was by far the quickest. I’d say the whole process, start to finish, took three minutes.
I couldn’t thank the man in the white pickup enough for allowing me to move on with my day so I could join the DCC choir in singing with some of the area’s most impressive vocalists at Bethany Baptist under the direction of the legendary Joan Hillsman.
I am thankful for friends, like my roommate, who are always willing to help. Strangers, as I learned that day, can be just as giving. And for that — I give thanks.