I’ve written previously on how powerful the practice of “paying it forward” to strangers has been in my life and the lives of those around me. This past week it was my turn to be the recipient of the beneficence of strangers.
As I was out running errands and taking my new rescue dog Yogi to be groomed, I stopped my car briefly at an ATM machine. As soon as I drove up to the bank, a construction worker (actually an angel) approached my car and began speaking in Spanish and gesticulating toward the back of my car. While I couldn’t understand his words, his demeanor of concern convinced me to engage with him.
He motioned me to get out of my car, and together we walked around to the rear where he showed me the disturbing sight of a back tire, almost completely flat. My mind immediately went to pondering how I’d somehow not noticed what must have been a sudden change in pressure on my back, left tire.
In that split second, I also contemplated how lucky I was that this catastrophic flat took place at slow speeds and within the city center, rather than when I was barreling along the West Texas highways on stretches of road where there’s nobody around for miles.
He gesticulated for me to move the car to a nearby open space in the parking lot next to the bank.
I again stepped out of my car after parking, and he met me at the back of my car, introducing himself by saying, “Hola senora. Me llamo Manuel.”
“Me llamo Tyra,” I replied, grateful for the two years of high school Spanish I’d taken.
He indicated that he would be happy to change my flat tire and my mind was immediately flooded with a profound sense of gratitude. I nodded my ascent, and quickly opened the tailgate where the spare tire, jack and tools are located under the cargo floor. He retrieved them, along with the small pouch I kept in my glove box containing the lug nut locks.
Just as he began to change the tire, one of his co-workers joined us. I supposed he came out of curiosity, or simply to help in the task. But instead, he was simply coming to offer me his company; together we watched in companionable silence as Manuel deftly took care of business.
Manuel replaced the flat tire with the tiny temporary tire, so that I’d be able to drive straight to the tire store to purchase a replacement.
As he closed the hatch, I said, “Sir, I don’t want to insult you, but I would like to give you this, as I handed him a $20.00 bill. He said, “Senora, it is my pleasure.”
“Gracias Manuel, “I responded.
A few minutes later, as I was waiting for the tire to be replaced, a friendly technician came and showed me the huge nail they’d found in my tire, explaining that it was entirely ruined and would need to be replaced with a new tire.
After they replaced the blown tire with a new one, he said to me, “Ma am, you’re very lucky you didn’t have a blowout on the highway, as that’s a very common cause of car accidents. My advice is to be extra careful and have your tires checked periodically. It’s important.”
In fact, he suggested, “Why don’t you make a practice of stopping by regularly just to make sure you are driving on safe tires.”
As I reflected on the day, I thanked the universe for these three strangers, who’d reached out to help me, a woman they did not know and would likely never see again. The events of the day reminded me for the most part people are good, kind and helpful and for that I am grateful.
© Tyra Manning 2019