We were returning home from Chicago after attending a family funeral, when one of the car’s warning lights went on. A rear tire was losing air.

We weren’t exactly in the middle of nowhere, but it sure felt like it. We were somewhere between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, in an area of mountains and trees and a number of miles between towns. We finally reached the next exit, and pulled into the gas station closest to the interstate.

My husband put air in the tire and looked for a cause or source of the leak, but couldn’t find anything. We crossed our fingers and got back on the road, but it was only a matter of minutes before the tire started losing air again.

We got off at the next exit, in Manchester, Tennessee, and asked at a gas station if there was anyplace nearby that did tire repair. We were told there was a place just down the road, but the person we talked to wasn’t sure if they worked on cars, or just trucks. We drove over, and found a huge garage with a number of semis parked at various angles around the building.

We found the owner and told him our problem. He called one of his workers over and told him to take the tire off our car and check it out. Not only did he drop what he was doing in order to help us, he quickly found the piece of metal that had pierced the tire. In just a few minutes, he had the leak plugged and the tire back on our car. We then went inside to find the owner.

“How much do I owe you?” my husband asked, pulling out his wallet. The owner paused just a second before answering, “Ten bucks.”

As you might guess, we did a double take, then gave him a very large tip along with the payment. He thanked us and wished us safe travels, which we had for the rest of our trip.

We spent part of the drive shaking our heads and marveling at what had just happened, and how lucky we were that it happened exactly when and where it did. What could have been a long and costly delay – especially if the tire blew while we were still on the interstate looking for an exit – was instead a minor and inexpensive detour through what is now my favorite town in Tennessee.

In a world filled with too many people who are just out for themselves, who will take advantage of others at every opportunity, or who wouldn’t bother giving them the time of day in the first place, it’s easy to forget there are still people who will drop whatever they’re doing in order to help others, who will give strangers a hand – and a break – when they need one, and who would never think of taking advantage of them.

It’s nice to be reminded of that once in a while. In  fact, I  will never tire of it.

September 18, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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