Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Random Act of Kindness

Today was supposed to an uneventful day, one of the last before I head back to work next Monday. For most of the day it was uneventful until I headed out for PT, and made the fateful decision to take a route to I-4 that lead down Hollywood Way (from Turkey Lake) right onto Universal Blvd, which led directly to I-4 east. It was after I'd just turned onto Universal that a car came very close around my right front and I swerved left to avoid them. I hit a low curb with the left front tire and blew out the tire's sidewall. The other car, in such a hurry to get around me, kept right on going.

And that's the way it was, with heavy traffic flowing around, and no-one bothering to stop (there were a number of witnesses). It didn't take long to see I was going to need to put the spare on, the problem being my healing leg getting in the way. So I decided to use, just this once, my AAA Premier service I pay over $300/year for to see if they could schedule a wrecker over to at least help me change the tire. When I called at 1:45 pm, I was informed by AAA that they couldn't get anyone there before 2:45 pm. I called my wife right after to have her call the PT folks and let them know I wasn't going to make it.

While sitting there waiting for the wrecker, a car came around the front and parked. Out stepped a young woman named Julianne. She works at Universal. She was on her way home from a shift that had started at 5:30 that morning. She was still bright and cheerful and asked if everything was OK. I was able to quickly explain what had happened and she could see the now-fully-flat front tire. When I told her how long it would take for a AAA representative to arrive, she asked if there wasn't some way to change the tire between the two of us. She offered to do it herself if not for the fact she was pregnant. So here we two were, a crippled old man and a pregnant young girl, deciding to change the tire.

I pulled out the manual, then pulled out the doughnut spare and the tools. I managed to get down on the ground, hook up the simple car jack, and between the two of us we got the car up and the tire changed.
And all the time we were doing this the traffic kept flowing around us, non-stop. The only time any traffic did stop was if any cars were trapped by traffic in the other lanes. Then the drivers would sit and glower at us for the temerity of getting in their way, until traffic cleared to their left and they could whip around us.

I was so happy to have Julianne, if for no other reason than to have her standing nearby in her bright traffic jacket, to keep me company and to let others on the road know I had a problem.

It took about 30 minutes to change the tire and have everything put away. When finished she bid me safe travel and left to finish her interrupted journey home.

What struck me about her was her cheerful enthusiasm to help, and her idealism. This is what always causes me to stop and think about our young, especially our children. The majority of our young, of every generation, always start out strongly idealistic and willing to dive enthusiastically into whatever task crosses their path. Julianne was kind, considerate, and concerned. Far more so than her elders who were streaming around the two of us on their way to whatever was that was so important to them. That is what separates her cohorts from mine; we oldsters wind up having our idealism ground down and we develop an attitude of entitlement, that whatever we have we've earned and thus deserve, no matter what. We don't have time for small acts of charity.

I was able to drive (slowly) down to Courtesy Toyota on 436 where I had them order a new Bridgestone replacement for $140. Tomorrow I drive back (slowly) and they'll put it on and check the alignment. I have no idea what I'll wind up paying totally for this little incident.

In spite of the cost and lost time, I came away a good deal richer today that when I started. I started off rather cynically, yet I ended the day with a good deal of hope for the future. Julianne reminded me of all the good that is in people, especially the young and young at heart. Thank you, Julianne, for helping me today.