Thursday, August 5, 2010

Others in the 102 degree heat.

I was almost home yesterday afternoon in the 102 degree heat here in Louisville. I had gone up to visit Anne to get my hair cut and chatter like a magpie for a couple of hours.

There's this part of I-65 before the Kennedy Bridge over the Ohio that goes from 70 mph to 55 mph. As I was slowly rolling in the midst of a major traffic tie up ahead, I saw an old dark green 70's era Bonneville stopped at the side of the road with a flat on the back right side. The wheel was on the ground and a man was kneeling trying to get the small spare tire on the axle. All the windows were down and the doors were open on the ditch side of the car. I could see two women and young children sitting there; the women fanning.

I pulled over ahead of them and walked back. They didn't have AC working and were hot. There were two children in the car. One was a girl maybe five and the other an infant. I had a bottle of water I'd bought up the road about 20 miles before. They shared it. The man came around to see what I wanted and he got a swallow. The younger woman said they were close to home; just 2 more exits and then into Jeffersonville. "I don't know why this kind of thing has to happen when we were almost home." There's no answer to something like that.

I said, "Why don't you all come sit in the truck? It has air conditioning." The two women did and held the kids in their lap. I had a couple wet wipes from a fast food meal. The older woman used those to cool of the baby. The man went back to the wheel. Shortly after I stopped a cop stopped and helped the man finish.

The policeman came up and told us it was done and they could go on home now. The man walked up to the passenger door and thanked me for taking care of his family. The women thanked me too and one of the kids, a little girl, hugged me.

I was thinking of the day in late June when I was on that same road going north, and had a flat tire. This was during the time Roger was driving nails into the tires of my truck, one at a time. I'd always been closer to home when this happened before, but even though I had checked the tires before leaving, there was another that slowly leaked and stranded me beside the expressway.

I had AAA then and a cellphone. I called and they asked the usual questions; type of vehicle, color, mile marker nearby. I got the tire unhooked from under the truck bed, and got the jack and was organizing things when the tow truck got there. The mechanic finished quickly got it changed. It was over 95 degrees that day and I had AC, but I often think of how it would have been if I'd had to finish the change or didn't have AAA or air conditioning in the truck.

I heard the other day that 99.9% of DNA in our bodies is exactly like 99.9% of DNA in every other human's body. Further more that the entire DNA in existence today is from 68,000 people a long long time ago. There isn't any new DNA. What we have is what we have. No matter what we look like or where our parents and ancestors came from, we are pretty much the same as the people next door, genetically.

If you come into contact with a stranger you are pretty much just like them. If circumstances allow you to spend a few minutes in their company, you will also discover they enjoy air conditioning or heat. You may find that they like to go to baseball games and movies. They like meatloaf or cookies, maybe the exact same kind as you like. It is said that we are all within six levels of separation in knowing every one. In Louisville I sometimes think it's four.

It is more important for a useful interesting life to get to know others individually than it is to be rich or live a long life. I know it is not possible to get to know "every" person. I do know that it is possible to get know one other person or ten other people. At least that's what I believe and I know walling yourself off so you are safe or keeping all your cookies for yourself, is not the most useful or interesting thing to do.


  1. Great job in helping the family. I was raised to do things like that, too. I do help people and even pay for the person behind me's meal. Not often, or often enough, but I have done it. You are the hero here.

  2. I'm from Texas most of us would have stopped..well, in West they would have. I'm glad I'm smart enough to have picked you for a friend.

  3. That was very kind of you. Good for you ! In the city I live in, I don't know if I would stop for anyone simply because I am alone and you never know what could happen, but good for you !

  4. a great addition to the asset portion of your balance sheet, your goodwill is trending up.

    there are some parts of our city where people would stop and some parts where they'd drive on by.

  5. Coffeypot: I wasn't raised like that exactly. Oh I got the Good Samaritan lesson but there was a lot of fear in the household of all women. Though not specifically stated it was a fear of the stranger, a fear of that outside the close knit area I grew up in.

    Yellowdog Granny: I feel blessed to know you too. :o)

    Senorita: I felt drawn to do that; as if in a dream. Maybe it was the heat? I know there are parts of Louisville I would never stop. Since I got a cell I've called in things but not stopped. This time I didn't feel any threat.

    Billy pilgrim: I know. I'd not stop in some places.

  6. And yet I'm still unsuccessful at dating, I wish someone could explain why.

  7. This story is such a fantastic example of what it means to "do the right thing." You completely ROCK!! Thanks for the reminder!

  8. I believe in Karma, and in storing up as much of the good kind as I can. There is too much fear out there, that's what makes people tune out - and as you so sagely point out - beneath the mask lies someone just like us, if we'd only take the trouble to look.

  9. Well, It was minus 4 degrees in my story. You know how I love the snow and it never stopped me for getting out when I was younger. But my sister was married and lived on Frankfort Ave and wanted me to come pick her up to come to my Mom and Dad's house. So off I went in a Ford Mustang. Made it to her house and picked her up and was heading back in about 6 inches of snow on the ground by now. When I got on the Hwy on Cannon's Lane there was a man walking away from his car sitting by the side of the road. He was walking in the snow with an overcoat and no gloves on his hands and no boots. The direction he was going, I knew had no service stations.
    So I looked at my sister and I said "We're going to stop and give him a ride and you get in the back seat behind him. If he trys something you can hit him in the head and I will grab the door and we will push him back out". We thought we had a good plan.
    When we stopped he got in the car and He thanked us very much. Could we please take him to a service station and he could call and get help from there. So off we went back off the Hwy and found a service station and dropped him off. He again thanked us and walked off.
    When Paula got in the seat and we drove off, we made a pack NEVER to tell mom what we did. I think years later while we sat around the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon that subject came up. You can imagine the look we both see from mom's eyes. But it was a good adventure and I would do it again if I have someone with me.

  10. I know we are all adults and know it's not smart to pick up people alone in most cases. Good story Linda!!

    I agree having another person with you is wise when doing this.

  11. Nicely done. I find those experiences enrich me.

    (BTW, the follow button on my blog just took a day or so to migrate from the old URL to the new.0

  12. Several years ago, my friend, Dave, relayed a funny story to me.
    He and his girlfriend, Marcy, were driving home from work (we all worked together) when he spotted what looked like an old man with a flat tire. It was HOT, so Dave thought it would be nice to help the oldster.
    Rounding the car, he asked, "Hey, you need a hand?" just as he noticed the gentleman was an amputee.
    Dave embarrassed himself so much that he went back to his truck and had Marcy help the old guy.

  13. I love this story :-) and the lesson attached to it. xx


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