The Kindness of Strangers
Recently Morgan expressed the idea of starting a series of blogs about the kindness of strangers. I’d like to start that series off by a story of mine from last year.
First off, I should introduce myself. My name is Payton, and I’m Morgan’s little sister. Except I’m not that little. I turn 21 soon. Big sister might forget that I’m not seven anymore. I study psychology at a small college in the middle of Georgia. I don’t travel as much as my sister does, but I do have my own adventures. With Morgan in Ireland for a year, I got to be an only child for a time. I particularly felt this during the holidays and family vacations.
Last Christmas my parents and I went to Orlando, Florida for a small trip. We met some other family down there, and we all had a lovely time. Even though the three of us didn’t spend a long time on this trip, I was pretty tired on the ride back. Plus, any time I’m in a car for over thirty minutes, I’m guaranteed to fall asleep (unless I’m driving, of course).
I woke up from my nap by the screaming. It isn’t pleasant to be awoken in this way, especially in a car. My dad is driving on the interstate, and the signs tell me that we are now back in our home state of Georgia. Yet he’s desperately trying to pull over the car. My mom has also woken to his screaming, scanning the road for his problem.
“I’M OUT OF GAS!!” Dad screamed.
He shakes the steering wheel vigorously, as if that’ll motivate the car to climb the hill. It’d be great if that worked, since an exit we are somewhat familiar with is at the top of this hill. But the car is done and empty.
How do you not notice your car is running on fumes? Easy. Dad has always blasted the 70s and 80s music to keep himself awake while Mom and I conk out. It would have been easier if Morgan was with us; at least they could have been talking about history or politics or something. However, Dad was on his own, so the music was blasted through the speakers. Because of it, Dad can’t hear the low gas alert beeping for miles.
Dad hopped out of the car, which he had safely pulled to the side. He paces the side of the car, wondering what we do. My Mom offers to call AAA; it has come in handy multiple times. While she’s on the phone, a car pulls up behind us.
I see both my parents tense. Yes, it can definitely be a scary situation to have someone potentially save you on the side of the road. I like to think I could join Holmes and Watson by observing people. This man is clearly harmless. He is muscular, yet he isn’t threatening. He has a Georgia Power polo on and khakis. His accent is thick. This man isn’t going to hurt us.
After determining the problem and a solution, the four of us scrunch into this man’s small car. I can tell my Mom is very nervous, and Dad is slightly embarrassed by this situation. The man had country music playing, and his phone rang frequently. Yeah, this man is harmless. However, Mom had discovered his hammer behind the driver’s seat in case he pulled something funny.
It turns out that the next exit doesn’t have gas stations right off the ramp, so it’s a blessing this man from this area happened to come across our car. He drove through small roads to a small gas station and filled a gas can before driving us back to our car. He told us during the small talk that he was out buying rice for dinner with his wife. He likes to help people on the side of the road, even though his wife urges him not to. Therefore, he has a gun the same color as his gold console (I failed Mr. Holmes by not noticing that one).
My parents and I were so thankful. This man didn’t have to stop for us. All he had to do was continue on his errand for his wife. He was a kind stranger, and we’ll never be able to thank him like we should have.
Next week, we have planned another trip to Orlando. This time, Morgan will be with us to keep Dad awake, yet I don’t think he’ll be forgetting gas on this trip.