In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche Dubois utters the famous line, “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers.”
Today, I know exactly how she feels.
It all began with a two hour drive to Indiana so my son and daughter could fulfill one of their dreams: seats in the fifth row of a Dave Matthews Band concert.
Just shy of our destination outside of Indianapolis, people in other cars started honking, waving and pointing to us. Realizing they were probably not expressing their deep admiration for my eight year old minivan, my kids pointed out that they seemed to be pointing to my tire. Upon pulling over, it was easy to see the flat tire was about as useless as my knowledge of fixing it.
Buying air from a gas station pump (who said air is free?), I managed to buy a little more time and get the kids to their concert venue. Then, I set out to figure out where on earth my spare tire actually was, and what on earth I would do with it, once I found it.
Within minutes, the newly replaced air was hissing out of my tire. Finally finding my way to another gas station, my hopes became as deflated as my tire when I realized that gas station didn’t even have an air pump.
At this point, I had a flat tire 120 miles from home, by myself, at 6:00 on a Saturday night. And of course, just to complete the mood, it started to rain.
That’s when I uttered a prayer –admittedly more of a complaint than a petition. “Lord, You have to help me here –I have no idea what to do.”
And then, just shy of a chorus of angels singing harmonies in my head, directly across the street, I saw a muffler shop with an open garage door.
Approaching the garage, I noticed they had closed an hour earlier, but three grease covered mechanics were still inside working.
Playing the damsel in distress more than I really wanted to, I interrupted them, hoping one might at least know where the allusive spare tire was on a Honda Odyssey minivan.
When all was said and done, they not only knew where the tire was, but without hesitating, they also put the van on their car rack and changed the tire for me. All of this was more than an hour after they had closed on a Saturday night.
Overcome with gratitude I choked back tears as I asked how much I owed them.
“Don’t worry about it, Ma’am,” the young mechanic replied.
Once back in my van, I allowed the tears to flow as I thanked God for the kindness of strangers, and all the angels he sends into our lives –especially the strangers who are angels who are sometimes covered in grease.