Michelle Martin

Thanks for a good Samaritan

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I found myself stranded the other day, having just picked up my older two kids from school. It was chilly and raining, and Teresa and I were both nursing colds as we waited in the car for school to let out. Soon enough, Caroline and Frank made their way across the street and into the car, and I got ready to pull away, intending to stop for gas on the way home.

But the car wouldn’t start. I turned the key, the engine cranked and wouldn’t catch. I tried again. Same thing. I knew that I was low on gas — less than an eighth of a tank — but I didn’t think I would have a problem on the quick ride to school and the gas station.

What to do? I had pulled up into a bus stop area, so I couldn’t leave the car there. There was a gas station about a block away, but I had the three kids, including a sick toddler.

My first plan was to push the car back out of the bus stop zone, leave Teresa with the older kids, and walk to the gas station. But the wheels were turned from when I had parked, and with no power steering, Caroline couldn’t turn the wheel enough to straighten them out while I pushed.

While I was trying to figure out what to do, a friend — a Girl Scout father — saw my distress and offered to help, using his car to push mine to the gas station. That worked, and we were able to buy gas.

I don’t know how inconvenient the detour was for him and his two daughters who were in the car with him. It only took them a few minutes. But it meant the world to me to have someone pay attention to my trouble and offer to help. It made a rotten situation less rotten, and made the world feel less cold and dismal.

Unfortunately, running out of gas turned out not to be the problem. The car still didn’t start. That’s when Frank pointed out that the gas station where we stopped had a mechanic on duty, and he was able to look at my car and determine that it needed a new battery.

We were on our way, wallets a little lighter, but safe and warm and dry.

So often in my life, help has shown up when I expected it least and needed it most. I’m not talking about winning the lottery or some big windfall; it’s usually just a little nudge — a push to the gas station, if you will — to get me pointed in the right direction and ready to keep going on my own. Sometimes the help comes from people whose job it is to be of assistance, but they do it in a way that provides comfort as well, and sometimes it comes from people who just happen on the scene.

That is, after all, what the Good Samaritan did. The robber’s victim certainly wasn’t any better off than when he started, even after the Good Samaritan tended to his wounds and found him a place to stay.

If he had been robbed, he was probably still worse off than when he started his journey. But at least he wasn’t lying in the street, vulnerable to the elements and whoever else might victimize him. He got the help he needed to eventually get back up and carry on.