Sunday, January 9, 2011

Unexpected Kindness

I got home from work late one night, hungry and tired and ready to just chill out on the living room couch. Unfortunately, as I was walking away from my car, I noticed a bothersome thing: one of my front tires was flat. Staring at the tire, my mind staunchly dredged up the last reservoir of energy to convince my body to take care of the matter immediately instead of waiting until tomorrow morning. Shutting down my mind from thinking any further (in case it started to rationalize and try to wheedle itself out of a tiresome task), I got back into my car and got it into gear and headed out.

As I was driving slowly down the streets, I mentally tried to remember the gas station that would have an air pump. Rejecting a few as being too far away, I headed for the Mobil station near the freeway. With the hazard lights blinking, I crawled down the streets. Thankfully it was late at night so I wasn’t causing any unnecessary delay for people rushing home from a long day at work. My heart was creating havoc in my chest as I listened to the uneven clunking of the car dragging itself courageously to the gas station with me.

After five minutes, I managed to safely cross a seemingly too big boulevard and turned into the gas station. Heaving a big sigh, I started to look for the air and water pump…and didn’t see any! Mentally berating myself for not noticing the flat tire sooner, I started to circle the dark gas station, peering into the darkness for anything that looked like an air pump. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a mechanic carrying a table inside, about to close up shop for the day. Unhesitatingly, I drove right up to him.

“Is there an air pump here?” The tired mechanic nodded and pointed to a dark corner off to the side. Thanking him, I made my way over to the air pump. When I stepped outside, I was immediately assailed by the stench of urine and some off-putting odor. Ignoring all that, I peered at the air pump, wondering what to do. Obviously this was my first time doing this. Noticing that I had to pay 75 cents to get the air going, I rummaged around inside the seat, looking for loose change. With the coins in  my hand, I peered at the flat tire, wondering if I was supposed to loosen some screw or twist some top or something when the mechanic came over.

“You need air for your tire?”

“Yeah. My front tire is flat.”

“Come on over. I still have some air left. Just pull right up to the first door.” He had turned off the compression but there was still some air left. Wow! Thank God! Problem solved! I didn’t have to try to figure out what to do. I hopped back into the car and drove up to the garage. He came out with a pump and started to unscrew the air thingy on my tire (you can tell by now I am completely clueless about cars and stuff). As he was putting the air in the tire, I asked him all sorts of questions about putting air into the tire and when to stop otherwise the tire would blow up. (That was a joke. I have no idea if it would blow up or not if I put too much air in it.)
After he put the air in the tire, I gratefully thanked him for his kindness and he proceeded to check all four of my tires, filling them up with air. What a nice man! During the course of the conversation, I found out that he worked seven days a week, not even taking a day off! Even though it was late at night and he definitely looked really tired, yet he went out of his way to fill up all four of my tires, not asking for anything in return. His gesture of kindness touched me and made my day. As I was driving away, I was telling myself: “I’m bringing my car back next time to get an oil change from him.”

It’s amazing how little acts of kindness, especially when most unexpected, can really bring joy to the receiver. When I got home, I didn’t feel tired or grumpy. Rather, I was feeling happy, grateful, and lighthearted. God bless him, for his kind soul.

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