The engine goes silent on the 1964 Olds F-85 as Mom and I take a back road from Casselberry to our home in Maitland.
“Here we go again!” says Mom as she shifts the car into neutral and tries to crank the engine while we coast up hill. “Come on, come on, one more time for mama.” Mom extolls to the less than compliant car.
As we roll to a stop a good five miles from the house. I look at the bag of groceries which included my favorite Bryer’s Vanilla ice cream, I soon realized this was going to be a bad afternoon.
It was the summer of nineteen seventy something. One of those days that even in the shade you felt like you were going to melt.
As we sat there in the blazing sun, Mom lifts the hood trying to make me believe that she would get the car going. A half hour of moving wires around and we are still stuck on the side of the road.
About the time Mom and I decide we are going to walk home, a VW Microbus comes chugging up the road.
Now it may be my imagination but if memory serves me this bus was full of hippies, singing songs and there is a lot of funny smelling smoke pouring out the windows.
The long haired driver wearing a macramé vest gets out of the van. “You need some help ma’am?” he asks with a smile on his face.
“I can’t get the damn car to start and I have groceries melting in the back seat, can you take a look? Mom sounds a little surprised and grateful that these folks she would not normally associate with have stopped to help
The hippie messes around with the engine for a couple of minutes. “Get in the car and give her a crank.” he instructs Mom. “I think I’ve found your trouble.”
Mom gets in the car and sure enough, the engine turns over. With a big smile and a ten dollar bill in her hand Mom, thanks the hippie mechanic and we are on our way home.
Flash forward to yesterday. I’m coming home from the office taking my normal route that involves a couple of highly traveled two lane back roads. The scenery is nice, and I enjoy the drive.
As I turn the corner at Hemple and 7th Street I quickly notice that there is a long line of cars stopped going the other way. A driver darts around another car that is stalled with its flasher going.
I immediately flash back to the back roads of Maitland and nineteen seventy something.
Once I pull off the side of the road, I come up to the lady sitting in the stalled car with her pre-teen son.
“You need some help ma’am? I ask with a smile on my face.
“The car stalled, and I can’t get it to start.” She exclaims.
From the amount of the backed-up cars behind her I can tell she has been there a while.
“Ok, let’s get your car off the road and safely out of the way,” I say. “ Put it in neutral and I’ll take a look at the engine.”
Once I had the car pushed to the side of the road she pops the hood.
I’m no mechanic and these new engines look more like computerized jet engines than the good old engines from the sixties.
I’d like to tell you that I got the car up and running but I can’t. Her husband and AAA were on the way to rescue her the rest of the way.
She was grateful for the help I was able to supply.
My hope is that in twenty fifty something the pre-teen will be able to tell the story of how a stranger helped his Mom and perhaps he will have the chance to return the favor.
Sometimes it takes just a small effort to impact someone for the next forty years.
How have you taken action that will have a positive impact on someone recently? Tell me your story.