On my way back from conducting an interview in Knightdale last week, I was zipping back to our Zebulon office via Highway 264 when I heard a pop from underneath my car.
“That can’t be good,” I thought, but I didn’t see any debris behind me that I might have run over. It didn’t sound loud enough to have affected my tire, but when I smelled burning rubber, I quickly realized I was wrong.
I pulled over, and having known someone in a similar situation killed while sitting in their stationary car, immediately hopped out and called AAA. Disclaimer: I kind of know how to change a tire, but, having bought my car used, I didn’t have a spare.
Although AAA is generally quick, 20 minutes went by with no phone call. I was wondering whether I should risk my life for some sweet, sweet air conditioning, when a 30-year-old red Honda Accord pulled over to help.
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As a big, burly guy emerged from the vehicle, I briefly considered whether I should let him help. But while a wedding ring and two child seats in the back seat don’t always speak to a person’s character, I resolved that he had to be a helpful Southern gentleman (as a northerner, I hear great things).
Sure enough, Jason was simply there to help. He took a look at my sunken tire, and, when I told him I didn’t have a spare, he offered to give me his. I tried to refuse but I knew that I didn’t want to sit in the 95-degree heat for another hour, so I assented.
“Thanks for letting me help you,” he said. “The last lady I tried to help wouldn’t even roll down her window.”
Well, I thought, I was probably just being stupid, but after living in Harlem I like to brag of having street smarts. Either way, it was too late to say no.
He quickly replaced the tire and tossed my flat in the trunk. I insisted on buying him another spare, which he refused. Before I thought to ask for his contact information, he had jumped back in his car.
That was a situation that could have ended in a more unfortunate way, but people like Jason remind me that not everyone holds a bad agenda. It’s a relief to be able to trust someone, something I don’t do enough.
It feels good for both the giver and the receiver to “pay it forward” or to serve someone because you have been on the receiving end before.
So, thank you, Jason. I will pay it forward, too, because you didn’t ask for anything in return. And if you want your spare back, shoot me an email.