Saturday, May 26, 2007

What Goes Around, Comes Around

A Story In Several Parts.

About ten years ago, I was driving east on highway 26 through Portland at about 830 on a weeknight, when my car broke down. That is to say, the engine stopped running, though due to inertia I had enough power to get the car over three lanes and onto the shoulder. This had happened before (for a different reason) so I knew what to do, and I was lucky because there was no traffic to navigate thorough in the car's powerless state.

I got the car onto the shoulder a few hundred feet or so from an entrance onto the highway. This was in the days before cell phones, so I walked up the exit to call AAA, an organization with which I have had a long and useful relationship, for a tow. The entrance came out in a residential neighborhood bereft of pay phones, so I walked a bit, looking for a house with the lights on. I found one in which not only the lights were on but I could see people sitting around a table in the front parlor, so I rang the bell.

I explained my situation and asked if I could use the phone to call a tow truck, and the person who answered the door not only agreed but insisted that I wait at her house for the tow truck to come, rather than on the highway shoulder. I sat on the stairs in the hallway and made my call to AAA, and then waited for the yellow truck to arrive to take me back to the car and ultimately to the auto shop.

I didn't speak to any of the people in the house, except to say thank you and goodbye. They were playing a dice game like Yahtzee or Boggle. At the time I felt strongly that they were so kind to me because the kindnesses I was doing in my life were coming back around to me. I hadn't had to walk far to find a household that would allow me to use their phone, and I had been asked to wait inside, where it was warm and safe, until the tow truck came. I was very aware that I had received kindness from strangers, and felt enfolded in the arms of the universe.

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