Some days you just shouldn’t get out of bed. I had one of those recently.
I was on day twelve of the monster-cold/sinus infection that had kept me out of work for a week and a half. After almost two weeks of misery, I gave up and made a doctor’s appointment in Bellevue, about a twenty-minute drive from my house in Seattle. My goal? Beg for antibiotics.
I almost made it.
A block away from the clinic, I got into a car wreck. I thought the car that collided with me was in a turn lane, but other driver says he wasn’t. Traffic cameras will ultimately determine who was at fault. At first, the other car kept driving, and I thought I’d been involved in a hit and run. I pulled to the side of the road only to realize that I’d left my cell phone at home on my desk.
I flagged down a Fedex driver who called 911, and a few minutes later, the other driver appeared on foot from two blocks away. The damage to his car was worse than mine, but both seemed relatively minor considering the impact of the collision.
We didn’t speak much during the 90 minutes we waited for the police, but I was grateful that no one was injured. After the policeman took my statement, he told me that he hoped I’d have a better rest of my day.
How were either of us to know things would only get worse?
On a freeway onramp a few blocks later, I felt my car wobble. Then I noticed that I had to hold the wheel at a 45 degree angle to keep the car straight. There is no way in HECK the car was safe to drive.
I pulled to the side on the dangerous onramp, because I figured it was better than driving on the freeway. My cell phone was still at home on my desk, so there was no way to call for help. I put on the hazard lights, got out of the car, and tried to wave down someone to call 911.
At least 200 people drove by at 55 MPH. Business vans, burly-looking men in cars, SUVs, even taxis. I tried to look innocent. I yelled the word “please!” I even tried yelling, “Dial 911!” I was too far away from a safe street to walk. I considered the merits of dying in my car versus walking on the freeway, only to come to one frightening conclusion: There was no way this day was going to end well.
Finally, a woman stopped. I opened her car door and asked her to call 911, which she did. The 911 operator said they could do nothing to help. The stranger, shocked, said, “This woman has no phone and it’s not safe for her to stay in her car. What do you want her to do?”
Their answer? “Sorry, we can’t help. Have her call a tow truck.”
The stranger (who is obviously a saint) said “get in” and drove me to the closest gas station, which was 10 minutes away. Thus began our adventure
To make a long story short, 911 and my husband said to call the tow company; the tow company said to call 911. Eventually, my new hero (the saintly stranger) helped me with the tow company, took me to get a rental car, and stayed with me until I’d been reunited with my husband—two hours after she picked me up on the freeway.
Why do I write about this?
I wasn’t a threat to anyone while I was stranded on the side of the freeway, but hundreds of people drove past me, ignoring my pleas for help. The person who finally stopped was a woman, driving alone, who had plenty of things she’d rather to do than cart around a sobbing stranger who’d been in a car accident.
Instead, she stuck with me. She helped me. She even prayed for me. She made a horrible, awful, traumatizing day better. When I asked her why, she said “I hope someone would do it for me.”
We should all be so kind.
There are good people in the world. May each of us be one of them.