The Colors of Kindness

I love watching the CBS evening news. Especially the last story of the broadcast, because it features somebody doing something good in the world.
Like those guys who changed my tire last week when I had a blowout on Interstate 30, just outside of downtown Dallas.
Fortunately, not long after I ran over whatever it was that punctured the tire, I was able to take an exit and pulled into a convenience store parking lot. It was still pretty early in the morning, so there were lots of people filling up, grabbing breakfast to go.
Did my dad show me how to change a tire when I first learned to drive? Yes
Could I do it if I absolutely had to? Probably. Well, maybe.
But it’s like preparing my tax return. There are just some things I’d rather not have to do. Things that someone else with expertise – and in this case, brawn – are just better suited for than I am.
So I go into the convenience store and announce my dilemma.
“Can somebody help me change a tire?”
Most diverted their gaze very quickly and shot out the door.  But this one guy didn’t even hesitate.
Standing there with a package of strawberry zingers and a carton of chocolate milk, he told me to let him put his breakfast in his car, and he’d be right there to change my tire.
When he came over to my car, he brought his younger co-worker with him, who actually did the work. They both had kind eyes and quick smiles. They refused to take any payment, even when I tried to insist. I shook their hands when they finished and thanked them. And they went on to meet up with the rest of their road crew with the state department of transportation.
With all the turmoil recently over Michael Brown’s death sparking conversations about racial discrimination everywhere, it was nice to know for a moment that none of that mattered.
For a moment we were just people – two guys who happened to be better at changing tires than I am. Who happened to be African-American. Who happened to be nice enough to take time to help.
And then there was me. A white woman with three degrees who can’t change a flat tire.
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim Hayes says:

    Sally – I must agree with Beverly that I have missed hearing your voice. This post touched a special place in my soul as well. It reminded me of the kindness I witnessed in my father-in-law, who sadly left us 16 years ago last month. When you mentioned those who helped you were with the department of transportation, I thought, “Maybe kindness is a requirement of the job.” My father-in-law spent over 40 years serving at TXDoT. He was the first to volunteer when someone announced, “Can somebody help me…” Whatever it was.

    As far as being quiet… I relate. I continue to search for my voice again. After three and a half years, I sometimes wonder if grief has stolen it altogether. Thanks for breaking the silence – if only for a moment. It is a light in the darkness. Blessings to you.

  2. Kelvin says:

    Wonderful story of stranger kindness. As Tennessee William once wrote “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

  3. bbbam1 says:

    I don’t know if it has just been a long time since I have seen you here, or if this was just especially touching this morning, but this is my favorite in a long time, then again all are my favorites. When you reach an olden age you absolutely long for kinder and gentler, and quiet and soft and this did it for me. thank you sweet friend and may God always travel with you is my prayer for you………………..Your sister in Christ, your way older sister I might add…Beverly Marshall

    1. sallygary says:

      It’s just been a long time, Beverly. It’s been hard to write these last several months. But my voice is still in there. I just needed to be quiet for a little while after my mama died. You understand that. It’s so nice to hear this affirmation from you today, from someone who knew my mama for so long. Almost like it came from her. Thanks, sweet sister. Much love to you and Jim!

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