On a winter afternoon some years ago, a young couple set out on a drive.
It was Christmas Eve and the car was loaded with gifts for the family Christmas gathering two hours away. They had called ahead to warn the family they were running behind but that they planned to reach town in time for Christmas dinner.
After a visit with the in laws, they set out on the highway, the sun starting to set behind them.
As the couple drove down the highway everything seemed normal, the radio was tuned to Christmas music and they chatted as they drove. Then the young fellow noticed the car behind them was flashing its headlights. He wondered why but thought little more about it until the temperature light came on.
As they slowed and pulled onto the shoulder they started to see the steam coming from under the hood. Stranded on the side of the highway on Christmas Eve was not a good place to be so they decided to try for the next interchange, there might be help there.
They drove down the shoulder of the highway, watching for the temperature light, hoping they were close to the interchange. Then a sign came into view, the interchange was near and there was a Provincial Police Station on the side road. Finally they had some good news.
On they drove and as they came to the Police Station they saw there were no cars there. The lights were off, there was no one home. The sign on the door explained it was a substation and had regular hours like any business but that there was a phone for emergencies in the entranceway. He called the police and they said they would send someone.
Not knowing what else to do he walked to the house next to the station and knocked on the door. When a man answered, he explained his situation and asked that the man call a tow truck for him. The man asked the young fellow if he wanted to come in but he said no, that he wanted to wait in case the tow truck showed up and that his wife was still with the car but he did thank the man for his kind offer.
Eventually the tow truck came. He opened the hood hoping that it was a small hole in the radiator hose and that he would be able to patch it. As he looked, the man from the house came over to see if he could help. The tow truck driver said no, the hose was too badly damaged and that the car would have to be towed, and it was just a matter of figuring out where to tow it to. The man from the house asked how much hose was needed, the tow truck driver told him, and the man said that he could get some hose and some coolant for the car. He ran a truck supply business and would be back shortly with what was needed.
A while later the man returned with a length of hose and two jugs of coolant which the tow truck driver was able to use to get the car going again. The young fellow offered the man some money for the hose and coolant, which was at first turned down but eventually accepted at the young fellow’s insistence. He wanted to thank the man for his help and the only way he could think of was to at least pay for the parts.
The tow truck driver was paid for his time, it was his business to help and he had to charge for the repair.
The young couple were happy to be safely on their way only making one stop, at a pay phone to let people know the car had broken down but they were back on the road again. They said they would be late, and they would explain when they got there, which they did.
Every year as Christmas approaches I think of this story, how a stranger offered his home to a stranded motorist, how he took time from his family on Christmas Eve to help, how some people have to work on Christmas Eve in case someone becomes stranded on the road, like I was some years ago.
The story is true, and at this time of year it gladdens me that there are still people willing to put the needs of others in front of their own in order to help a stranger on Christmas Eve.
Happy Christmas everyone.