I was having a bad day. A really bad day.
I had just left my doctor’s office where she used words like, “crisis” and “trauma,” causing endless waterfalls of giant, salty tears to pour from my swollen eyes. Yes, it was a very bad day.
Sarah, she said with a voice laced with empathy, there are good people out there, and although it may be hard for you to believe it from where you’re sitting at that moment, not everyone is bad or means you harm.
“You’re a good person,” she said. “And good people will find their way to you.”
So with a head full of doubt for her positivity, I decided to go for a drive in the sunshine. I had no destination in mind, just a need to be free of my problems for a few minutes. Putting rubber to pavement seemed like a good idea at the time.
That’s how I found myself on the Coquihalla highway.
My music was loud, the sun was warm and my baby was asleep in her carseat.
While my issues didn’t seem much further away, my stress and anxiety lessened with the passing of every kilometre on my odometer.
That is, until my car dinged to let me know I was officially on empty and driving on fumes.
“What happens when the gasoline runs out,” I remember asking my father as a teenager.
“You see the E?” he replied, tapping on the dashboard. “It turns sideways and becomes a W, which means walk.”
Looking at my sleeping baby in the rearview mirror, my grip tightened on the steering wheel and I hoped I wouldn’t be holding her while walking away from an empty gas tank.
My very bad day was getting worse.
After managing to turn around, which is easier said than done on Highway 5, road signs let me know Hope was less than a 100 kilometres away.
But my gas tank was telling me I wasn’t going to make it that far.
In fact, if my tank was to be believed, I was going to be stranded at least 15 clicks outside of town.
But the winds of fortune were on my good side on that very bad day, and somehow against all odds, I managed to coast into Hope, rolling into the first gas station I came upon.
And that’s when I realized I didn’t have my wallet, or any form of payment.
And did I mention that I live in Agassiz, and was due home in 30 minutes to meet my oldest child after school? I wasn’t just stranded. I was stranded and about to leave my seven-year-old alone and locked out of the house.
Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my phone and went into the service station and politely asked the cashier if they would be able to accept an email money transfer.
He directed me to his manager, who was standing outside with a few other gentlemen.
After briefly explaining my situation, I asked again if I’d be able to email payment so I could get home to Agassiz.
“I’ll tell you what,” said one of the men standing behind the store manager. “I’ll buy your gas. How about that?”
Although I pleaded with him to let me repay the kind gesture, either with an email transfer, or coming back with cash, he refused. He shared with me a story from his past about helping a hungry lady when he ran a restaurant.
That’s when my doctor’s words came flooding back. There are good people out there, and here was one standing right in front of me.
Without sharing too many details, I explained to him that I’d been having one of the worst days of my life, and he saved me on a day when I needed saving.
And so, even with COVID protocols still in place, I asked that man — whose name I never learned — if I could give him a hug, and he agreed.
So, in the middle of a pandemic, on one of the worst days of my life, a man from Hope restored my hope in people by purchasing $21.11 worth of fuel for my vehicle, without a single ulterior motive.
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