A couple of days ago I was driving past a large Albertson's shopping center. 20 years ago it was only one large house on many acres of land. On the adjacent street small, older houses with large yards or small farms lined the street. A shallow irrigation ditch ran along the road -- probably a couple of feet wide and less than 2 feet deep. Now most of the houses are gone and a nursing home, office building and apartment complex have been built there instead.
My senior year of high school I delivered papers along this street, sometimes driving our family's small Honda and sometimes driving a very old, very large, Buick stationwagon. One of the houses still remaining is an old duplex. One snowy day at 5:00 in the morning 20 years ago I was driving the Buick to deliver the papers. As I tried to turn into the driveway of the duplex, the stationwagon slipped in the snow and we ended up in the ditch. Although not deep, it was impossible to get out.
Given the early hour, I hesitated to ask for help. But what else could I do? I was too far from home to walk back so I needed to use a phone. I timidly knocked on the door and a young woman answered with her husband right behind. I quickly explained and in an instant her husband said not to worry. He had a truck and a chain (!!), and before I could respond his boots were on and he was jumping in his truck. He towed me out, got my car on solid ground and I was back to my paper route.
Before I knocked on their door I worried they would be annoyed. I knew they'd be tired. I worried they wouldn't be home. I thought they might be mad. I wondered if I'd get a lecture. My hair was a mess, I was in pajamas and a sweatshirt--I must have been a sight on their doorstep. And then to have our giant Buick nose first into the ditch in their front yard. Of course they'd have excuse to moan and utter a frustrated or nasty comment or two. And then even when I did call my dad--what could he do? I was pretty sure he wouldn't call a tow truck. So we'd have to think of friends who might be able to help. How do you get a car out of a ditch? And how long would it take? I might be inconveniencing them all morning.
But instead, there was no complaint, no negative remark. They helped me out and sent me on my way. Unfortunately, I'm sure I never gave them a note or a gift. But I've never forgotten and hope I'll respond in kind. This Thanksgiving season they are one of the people I'm remembering and to whom I give Thanks.