So, I had to go to Walmart this morning. Second time in two days. Went yesterday to get new pillows and snacks for the boys Valentine's parties at school. Got the pillows; forgot the snacks. So I headed back over there this morning and got them.
Years ago, I worked in a grocery store. As shy as I am, I always made it a point to smile and be friendly to my customers. Apparently, my cashier this morning missed that lesson. She was not outright rude, but she never once smiled, never said please or thank you. In fact, the only words she spoke to me at all were "You can go ahead and swipe your card now" after she rang up the first item. I didn't say anything to her, but I wanted to tell her that she needed to be a little nicer. But, whatever.
As I was driving home, thinking about this experience, the local radio station I was listening to was having listeners call in and tell what the nicest thing a stranger had ever done for them was. I had to think really hard, because it's not very often anymore that a stranger does anything nice for anyone. And then I remembered.
When C was a baby, he'd gotten some kind of eye problem. I don't even remember what it was, just that it caused his eyes to be really goopy and yucky. SD and I were still together, we had two cars at that point. SD left me the cell phone we'd recently gotten and I was taking C to the dr. On the way, my car got a flat. I didn't have AAA or anything like that. I couldn't call SD because...well, I had the cell phone. I called my dad, but he was working about 3 hours away. I couldn't change the flat myself because I didn't want to put C in his carseat on the side of the road and I didn't want to leave him in the car while it was up on the jack. Oh, yeah, and there was also the fact that I didn't actually know HOW to change a flat. But that's just a minor detail; I'm sure I could have figured it out.
Anyway, as I'm standing here on the side of the road, freaking out, with C in my arms, this lady in a very nice car pulls over behind me. She gets out and asks me what's wrong. I explain that I have a flat and I'm waiting on my dad to come change it. She says she'll wait with me. I tell her that I appreciate that, but it's not necessary. She insists. I relent, because I don't want to be rude to this lady who's trying to be nice. She asks how long it will be until my dad gets there. When I tell her 3 hours, she says I can't wait that long with a baby. She grabs her cell phone and her AAA card, and calls it in, telling them that she's on the side of the road with a friend and her baby and we really need someone to get there ASAP.
As we're waiting, she asks me where C and I are going. I explain the goopy eye thing and how we're going to the dr. She tells me that she is a dr. She stood there on the side of the road and examined C, diagnosed him, and gave me a prescription for some meds that cleared it right up, saving me the expense of the dr visit. An expense we couldn't afford. She did all of this for me and C, and the only thing she asked in return was that I call her and let her know how we were in a couple of days. Which I did.
Almost 9 years later, I can't recall her name. I only vaguely remember what she looked like. What I do remember is that she went well above and beyond what any stranger would do for another person. I remember that without her, SD and I would have ended up a couple of hundred dollars in debt for a dr visit we couldn't afford, my dad would have lost time at work, and I would have been siting on the side of the road with a cranky, sick baby for hours.
When that tire first went flat, I thought it was the worst thing that could happen to me. It turned out to be the best thing that happened that day.