Last Saturday, I was driving to Baldwin Wallace for my final track meet of the year when I came to a four way stop in an area I knew nothing about. As I began to accelerate, the little engine that could, couldn’t. My invincible Ford Taurus broke down; I was alone and stranded.
I had only a few hours until my race, no AAA membership and the closest person to help was 35 minutes away (and probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything to fix the car). My options were as follows: leave my silver bullet in Berea and worry about it later or call a tow-truck at that moment and pray I make it to my race.
It turns out I didn’t have to do either.
While I was on the phone with my dad, a man approached me and told me to pop the hood. His name is Bob, and he and his wife are the angels I had been praying for.
Bob has a lot of experience when it comes to mechanics; he’s not your typical “fix-it man,” though. His wife, Maureen, came out of their home, and he invited me to go inside with his family rather than waiting on the side of the road.
So, I did.
Maureen greeted me with a big smile as I walked through their courtyard, passing a stone that read, “Don’t make me come down there! –God.” The next best thing: a chocolate lab named Max. I sat on their kitchen floor, petting Max, talking about John Carroll, track, our families and more as Bob worked on my car.
It turns out their family is not much different than mine, and there are even a few JCU grads in there.
Maureen’s mother lives with them full time; I was able to meet her as well as their 18-year-old son, Ian. It was a pleasure talking to the two; Ian reminded me of my little brother.
After awhile, Bob came back inside and told me what he thought about my car, and that it was not something he could fix. Instead, he took down my information and told me he was going to call AAA. He then spoke to my dad to explain the situation, attached a coupon to the place he was having my car towed and gave me his business card, explaining if I ever needed anything he and Maureen would be a helping hand.
Astounded by such generosity and kindheartedness, I felt very nostalgic as I bid my farewells. As I was leaving I gave a hug to each of the family members, and the grandmother said, “I’m so glad you’re here.”
It was the oddest, most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced. In that instant, I felt as though I was meant to be inside the robin-egg blue home with white porches and stained glass windows.
I’m a firm believer in things falling into place; it was no coincidence that I broke down in front of Bob.
It turns out I was just down the street from the stadium where I was to run, so I left my vehicle on an unknown street and walked peacefully to BW where I ran a season-best in the 400 hurdles.
When I called my dad later that night, he said, “Let this experience fuel you.” He reminded me there are good people in the world.
As humans, I feel we get so caught up in the suffocating negativity of our every day lives that we often forget to see the good. We forget there are Bob and Maureen’s all around us. We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed when things don’t go our way. We have trouble remembering the smallest acts of kindness have a funny way of being the most impactful.
Maureen told me all I could do to thank them was to “pay it forward.” I hope that I’m able to impact the lives of those around me the way they had. After all, the world is filled with good people.