It was dark and misty at six pm. In the center lane, a car was stalled at the intersection. We each swung around the car. As I passed, I saw the driver in their seat. Her face illuminated by her cell phone. Like everyone else, I was headed home. Before I arrived at the next light, just a few feet ahead. A nudge hit me. "Go back, just check." I U-turned.
Driving back. I realized her car was invisible in the dark. She had no hazards or car lights on. Her tiny Mazda was just back enough from the intersection to be out of the glow of street lights. Instinctively, I made a second U-turn and pulled in behind her. She was standing beside her nearly invisible car. The drivers door was opened into the left turn lane. I rolled down my window and asked if she needed me to sit behind her with my hazards on. She nodded. I parked, turned on my lights and stared at a girl who was easily the ages of my daughters.
The license plate in front of me read Wisconsin. Either she was a visitor or a new transplant. My gaze on the car rear was interrupted as a young man stood up from the driver side of the car. He was shaking his head and staring at his phone. Seconds later, a car pulled behind me, another younger man alighted his car. He first stopped at my car. I rolled down my window, but he had moved past to her car.
The two young men conferred. They opened the front hood. I could see the backsides of two men looking through the car's inner workings. The young girl, working to keep her composure, typing frantically on her phone. Leaving my window down I listened. The car battery was dead, but so was something else. They had planned to push it, but couldn't get the car in neutral. The rain continued to fall.
One driver and two Samaritans wandered the perimeter of the car, each watching their phones for videos or tips for help. Meanwhile, life was zooming along around us. Car drivers hastening home after long days. Ready to enjoy the weekend. Streams of white headlights and red tail lights blurring past us. Me, watching car after car swerve out of our lane.
Then a burly, older man crosses the street, and adds his input to the car dilemma. He comes over and introduces himself. I believe he thought I was her mother. It's the first name I have of any of the people the whole time. He explains it's a transmission issue. That she's got the tow truck coming. He walks back to the group. The rain is getting my interior wet. I roll up the window.
In the quiet interior of my working car. I watch with joyful delight the saga that is before me. Three sincerely, generous men, using all their wisdom and tools to help a stranded driver in the middle of the road. None of them leave. They continue to take turns unhooking things, crawling on the floorboards under the dash of the car, while she is working overtime to keep her anxiety at bay.
Suddenly, the bright red lights of the tow truck inch through the intersection to get in front of her car. The tow truck driver, and the three Samaritans hold conference under the open hood of the car. She works her way to me. I roll down my window. She introduces herself.
The tears are beginning to puddle up, as she explains she doesn't know what happened to the car. It just died. She is new. She even checks her phone to see what her new address is. She remembers the street name but not the numbers. She thanks me for pulling in and turning on my lights. I thank her for giving me a front row seat to the beauty of our best lives. The tow truck driver beckons her over. She says "thanks" again. I roll up the window.
One by one, each of the Samaritans stops by my car to tell me their discoveries. I am sure they all think I am the mom. Which is fine by me.
Pretty soon, the dead car is inched on the flatbed, and all of us pull off to a side street. I wait a minute to make sure the girl will get home safely. Mom's do that. Even if it isn't your own child. When I know she is taken care of, I wave off.
Completing my drive home, I bask in the memory of the hour I have just spent.
Life, all over the world, feels turbulent and discordant right now, but not tonight. Tonight, it is only good. The best of humanity took center stage at a dim intersection. Each person giving their all for a complete stranger.
Like all the passing cars who flew by, each man may have had plans, been hungry, may even have had a bad day at work. Nonetheless, each stopped and gave their best to a college aged girl stranded in a new town. No one harmed her or took advantage of her. Each was genuinely interested in her well-being.
I presume her heart was a mix of emotions. Worry, fear, and joy. She was experiencing them all simultaneously. For me, I was overflowing with joy and delight. I had a front row seat to the best of Life.
As I pulled into my warm, lighted garage, the phrase, "The Samaritan Always Wins" crossed my mind in bold letters. Tonight proved that.