I'm participating in a community Halloween parade this evening, and will be dressed as a hipster witch. If the weather stays warm, I'm going to take Miss Salem with me, and we're going to throw candy to the kids. Steve is out of town, but Harrison and Christiana are all enthused, because they love Halloween. They're coming in costume, too, and I'm going to see if I can talk the shy and reserved Mr. Graham into coming with us as well.
Hey, do you believe in angels? I DO! Let me tell you kind of a cool story about something that happened to Harrison and me yesterday.
Earlier this year, we paid for my husband's grandmother's car to be transported to Hattiesburg. She doesn't drive anymore, so the family decided Harrison could have her 20-year-old Ford Taurus, with only 35,000 or so "little old lady" miles on it. Toots is a dear, and she was happy the car could stay in the family.
He had been driving my 13-year-old Ford Taurus with 135,000 "mom" miles. We told Harrison's sweet girlfriend that we'd sell her the car, which needs some work, for a song. The problem was, Harrison had lost the last key to the car a few months back, so yesterday, FINALLY, I called a locksmith to come and make us a new key. The locksmith is a retired police officer who drove his cool van over to where the car was sitting...and had been sitting all this time. He made a few keys while I waited in the parking lot (he had a neat little workshop in his van.) And then he helped me jump the car, as it was dead. Super-dead. Like, couldn't-even-pop-the-trunk dead.
Now, as I mentioned, the car needs some work, and we figured the alternator was the first repair needed. The alternator helps keep the battery charged, so Harrison was having to continually have someone help him jump-start the car. The car was also nearly out of gas, so as soon as we had a key, and the car was started, we drove over to the closest gas station for some gas. Harrison shut off the car, put some gas in, then went to re-start it and...nothing! The silly thing was dead, dead, dead. Again, again, again.
I went into the convenience store and told the clerks our car was dead and we'd need to run and get some jumper cables. One woman scowled and said, "You can't just leave your car there blocking the pump!" The other one said, "I think I have jumper cables in my car!" (There are two kinds of people in this world....) Miss Sunshine went and got us her jumper cables, and we said we'd be right back.
So, we get out to the car, I pull my Rogue around, and I say to Harrison: "Have you ever jump-started a car?" "I've seen it done," he says. Okay, so, we have no idea what we're doing, and I pull out my iPhone and Google "how to jump start a car" to make sure we didn't blow up the entire block.
I start reading the directions out loud to Harrison, and I'm sure we look like a couple of morons out there trying to figure out which end is the plus-sy end, and which end is the minus-sy end.
Enter: our angel.
"Hi," says a kind-looking man in a stocking cap. "I'm a such-and-such certified mechanic. Can I help you?" (I have no idea what kind of certification he was talking about...I am an automotive idiot!)
I tell him, excited now, that we're trying to jump start the car. He goes back and gets a battery tester from his truck, and as we chat about the condition of the car, he tells me that yes, it sounds like the alternator is dead. "How about I replace it for you right now," he says. "I've been sick with the flu all week, and I'm starting to get bored anyway. Oh, don't worry, I'm not contagious anymore."
He calls the parts shop and has them hold a shiny new alternator for us at his discount. We pushed the old Taurus to the side and left the mechanic, whose nickname is "ROADSIDE" of all things, to take out the old alternator.
I'll spare you all of this middle stuff, but let me tell you, that sweet man replaced our alternator IN THE PARKING LOT of the gas station IN FRONT OF CAMPUS for the cost of the alternator ($99.00 and tax) and $35.00 for installation. AND, while we were gone getting the part, he "tightened up a few wires and checked out a few other things" to just kind of look the car over for other problems.
He tells me he works at one of the local dealerships, but he also owns his own little fix-it shop and does everything. ("We even do glass," he says.) So I ask him about the tune-up Christiana is going to need on the Taurus. "Oh," he says, "that's fifty bucks and then whatever supplies we need. You can stand there and watch us fix it and see exactly what we put into it if you like."
So then, I tell him my husband needs something fixed on his 2005 Mustang, a job we had researched and knew would be about $700-$800 at the dealership. "Oh, yeah," Roadside says, "Those Mustangs have that problem all the time. That's kind of expensive, because you have to take off the dashboard."
"How much are we talking?" I ask.
"Whew, about $150.00 or so."
I tell him that he is our new mechanic, that he was exactly the angel we needed to run into yesterday. He writes down his cell phone number for me, and makes sure to give me a receipt for his small fee. ("Don't worry, I report all of this on my taxes," he says.) We parted ways with a smile and a handshake.
And I feel like I just won a lottery of sorts. If he hadn't been at that gas station, if Harrison's car hadn't died, if I hadn't waited until YESTERDAY to finally get the whole key situation figured out...we never would have met this capable, experienced, honest and friendly mechanic. Those guys are worth their weight in gold, don't you think? He was still hoarse from the flu, but was as pleasant as if he was on vacation at the beach. He could have ignored us trying to start Harrison's car, but he knew he could help, and so he did.
It's situations like this that I am reminded of Matthew 25, specifically:
"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invited you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
We have a Christmas ornament that says simply: "Every man shall give as he is able." I think there are a lot of ways for a person to show spirituality. I am especially thankful when a person sees someone who needs help and then steps up to get the job done. What a blessing to live in a world with people like dear Roadside.