The Kindness of Strangers

I had to drive Mr. A’s work truck on Monday and Tuesday, and I’ll be driving it today, too.  It’s a nice truck, I like driving it.  My Pathfinder’s been swaying, apparently this is an issue for older model Pathfinder’s. Probably due to old age more than anything I would guess. Serendipitously for me, Mr. A’s having a lull in business so he can take the time to fix it.  He changed the oil over the weekend, and “fixed” the air conditioning, so he decided he might as well tackle the swaying problem, especially since I’ve found on the Internet that it typically costs $600 to $800 for a shop to do the repair.

Mr. A’s truck has a 32 gallon tank so getting gas isn’t a twice weekly deal like it is in my vehicle, so well, I guess I just lost track. And besides, the gauge was barely starting toward the “E”. AJ and I were on our way down the freeway and the truck started chug-chug-chugging. I became alarmed, asking out loud why the truck was acting like that and he said, “Get off. Get off here. Mom, get off the freeway.” Luckily we were right near an exit and I don’t even know why I was in the farthest right lane. There are three lanes, and I typically travel in the far left lane as that is the one that continues on through without any merging. So I got off the freeway and the truck died at the nearest intersection. Of course people that had just come off the freeway, even though I had my hazard lights on, started honking impatiently. I got out of the vehicle, faced toward the cars behind me, threw up my arms and said, “I’m out of gas!” So then they drove around us. We decided to go down the road a ways and turn onto a street that was in a business section. AJ pushed – I helped at first, but we were on a bit of a downslope so it wasn’t difficult for him to push by himself. We stopped at the side of the road and I told him to start Googling on his phone and find the nearest gas station. After all that’s one of the reasons he wants Internet on his phone, for emergencies such as this.

I decided to walk over to the hotel we were right across the street from. It was a Marriott. I stepped in and there was a young man and a young woman at the front desk. The young woman was speaking to someone, so I walked over to the young man and asked him if he knew where the nearest gas station was located. He told me how far down the road, pointed in the direction I should head. I thanked him, and explained, “I’m out of gas.”

He immediately looked very concerned, and asked me if I needed a ride. I told him I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do, since I didn’t know if I had a gas can. He said, “Oh, the gas station will have one. I can take you there.” He grabbed the keys to the van they use to shuttle people to and from the airport and we headed out. We stopped by the truck to see if AJ wanted to come along, but he declined. So the nice young man took me first to a Quik Trip, but they didn’t have any gas cans. He was completely fine with that, and said “There’s more stations just down the road. We’ll find one.”

He couldn’t have been over 22 or 23 years old. I thanked him again and again, and he said his mother taught him to help people whenever you can. We talked about how it’s scary in this world, because you have to be careful about who you help (by the way – I saw the pregnant young homeless woman yesterday – she was walking down the street in the same general area, looking much more pregnant, and still looked to be homeless). I told him Mr. A freaks out a little when I help people in need on the freeway, and I told him he’d probably freak when he knew I just went off with a complete stranger (hotel employee or not!). But Mr. A wasn’t too upset, especially when he heard the young man has the same name as he does.  🙂

I know we have gas cans at home, so unfortunately having to buy one from a gas station set us back by $13 plus tax, for a two gallon can.

It’s embarrassing to run out of gas. I think this is only the third time in my adult life. Before my mom married my stepfather we were without a car for most of the four years she was single. When we did have a car, she could never afford to fill the tank all the way up, so it seemed like we were always running out of gas.

I’m thankful this time was because I made a mistake, not because of financial woes.

I am going to send a thank you card to the young man (that was the main reason I took note of his name), and I am also going to find the name of his supervisor, or the hotel manager, someone important, and send them a little note and let them know how very much I appreciate the young man helping me out, and what a great thing it is that he had the option to do that for me. I know a lot of places are very strict, and they must have a nice degree of autonomy at the hotel there to be able to make a decision like that without having to ask permission first.

Have you had any pleasant encounters with strangers recently?

Yours Truly,

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3 thoughts on “The Kindness of Strangers

  1. I applaud this young man as well, but I would be careful with the note to his supervisor. He may not have had the autonomy to do this, but was moved to do so anyway. I would at least include how this has reinforced your opinion of the marriott name, yadda yadda, and how you will be much more inclined to stay at a marriott brand hotel in the future. It would just cover bases so that the young man doesn’t get in trouble.

    I haven’t had any great encounters with strangers. Actually, on Sunday night our car broke down in our apartment complex, in the rain, and our neighbors didn’t even stop to see if we were alright. A little disconcerting actually.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Hi Mrs. MT, yes, isn’t it too bad that that should be a concern? I did think about how awful it would be if I ended up getting him into trouble, just trying to commend his (literally) going the extra mile for me! Your suggestion is great, I will definitely use it. I was also thinking about saying how it was so great that he had the autonomy to make that kind of a decision. But I also find myself thinking maybe I shouldn’t send a note to the supervisor, just in case. Hard to know. Sorry about your experience with your neighbors not caring… I would have been offended, too. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


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