I had a good start to a bad day, but as it turns out, it ended up being a day that confirmed the greater good that I know all people are capable of if they choose it! A basic truth that lies at the heart of every person, no matter what race, religion, or status that sets us apart, is that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. So simple, yet so easy to forget.
I was riding with my son to take his car to Ky to get the air conditioning fixed. His Papaw fixes all our car problems. We were driving down the interstate, windows rolled down, no air conditioning, sweat rolling on a hot, summer day when we notice the car also started running hot. Like all the way in the red, engine trouble, hot!
We pulled over several times trying to get it to cool to no avail. Finally, we resided to sitting at the gas station to wait for my father-in-law to come pick us up. While we were waiting, another young girl came and sat beside us with the same defeated look on her face. I asked her, “Are you stranded also?” She said, “Yes, ma’am. My car has a blown tire.” I’m not sure what came over me but I immediately volunteered my son, Asfaw, to help her change the tire. Ha! Her car was out on the ramp of the interstate. We all made our way over there and Asfaw began looking for tools. I had thought we might as well help this young girl while we are waiting to be picked up ourselves. We were all kind of in the same boat. I don’t know what she would have done. It didn’t appear that anyone was coming to help her.
She had no tools so Asfaw found some in his car and began to try to jack her car up with a rusty jack and turn wrench. Did I mention it was in the 90’s with humidity blazing? 🙂
He was loving me for volunteering him at this point. 🙂 Let’s just say it took all the strength he had.
He finally got the car up off the ground after about a million turns with all his might, only to then discover that the lug nuts were not going to budge…like at all! (sweat pouring at this point) 🙂
After about 45 minutes, Asfaw had completely given up on getting that tire off. Almost on cue, about that time, a man pulled over and opened his car trunk to show us he had every tool, turbo lift jack, and all accessories for the job…seriously, like a gift from God. He was our car angel. He was even wearing a yellow safety shirt. His name was Dave.
He and Asfaw worked together and they were able to loosen the lug nuts and get the tire off with all the new tools.
I wouldn’t say I was much help but I cheered them on, handed tools, etc. 🙂
In the meantime, my father-in-law showed up with a trailer to pick us up and tow our car. The others finally had gotten the spare on Jemone’s car only to realize it was flat. But not to worry, our new friend, Dave, had an electric pump to fix that problem also.
Papaw jumped in to help all of us who were stranded and broken down and quickly made friends with Dave.
The spare tire was finally secured on Jemone’s car and we sent her on her way. We told her we would catch up with her and drive behind her as we were all going the same direction.
As we helped Dave pack up his tools, I asked him, “Do you help people like this often? Is that why you have the yellow shirt on?” He said, “No ma’am. I am a garbage truck driver. I was on my way home from work and saw you all on the side of the road and thought you could use some help. I just bought these tools and have never used them. I would just hope that someone would do the same for me if I was in the same situation.”
So you see! That really touched my heart! Everyone was working together to help each other. But what if you ran across each person separately? There are so many scenarios in this where people could look at each person individually in another setting or situation and judge each and every one of us. Has Dave ever been judged for being a garbage man? Has Jemone ever been judged for being black, or not girly enough? Has my son been judged for being Ethiopian, black, and a foreigner in this country? Would people judge me for being white, or being white and adopting outside my race? Has Papaw ever been judged if he drives too slow and someone drives up behind him and sees his white hair? The answer is yes! We all look at people from the outside and judge too quickly. We can all ask ourselves, “Would any of us ever have approached each other, or spoken to each other, in any other situation?”
But look at how well we all work together when we CHOOSE to help each other! It is a beautiful thing!
I recently heard a speech given by Barak Obama at an event honoring Nelson Mandela in South Africa. He said it like this, which sums all this up perfectly….
“What was true then remains true today. Basic truths do not change. It is a truth that can be embraced by the English, the Indian, by the Mexican, by the Bantu and Luo, and by the American. It is a truth that lies at the heart of every world religion that we should do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. That we see ourselves in other people. That we can recognize common hopes, common dreams. And it is a truth that is incompatible with any form of discrimination based on race or religion or gender or sexual orientation. And it is a truth that, by the way, when embraced, actually delivers practical benefits, since it ensures that a society can draw upon the talents and energy and skill of all its people.”
We loaded our car up as the sun was setting.
As we followed behind Jemone with our flashers on and people whizzing by us giving us the bird for driving too slow, I couldn’t help but think that I’m thankful our car broke down. It broke down at just the right moment and at just the right exit, in order to meet our new friends. We are an unlikely bunch, but I feel like a better person for having had this roadside revelation. This day and age we all need to gain hope by seeing the good in people. How awesome to live in a society that can draw upon the talents and energy and skill of all its people if we choose to.
Love always wins!