A Helping Hand

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I was on my way to work one day.

It had been raining cats and dogs.

I saw a car on the side of the road, flashers on.

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Traffic was flying by, and no one was stopping.

I pulled in front of the car and stop. I want to be able to size up the situation. It's a woman.

Wave shyly because I worry she'll feel threatened.

She waits for traffic to lighen up and opens the door. She is pregnant.

I approach the car.

There are two kids in car seats in the back.

I ask her what is wrong.

She has a flat tire.

She knows how to fix it, but can't find the lug wrench. I tell her I can help, and ask if that's okay. She agrees.

The cars are going by without even changing lanes. The whole car shakes each time a car passes close by.

Truckers are nicer, they give us space. But they are so big, the car rocks even more.

I look in the back of the car, under the carpet Whew! There is a spare tire, and it appears to be fine. The jack is there, too.

No lug wrench, so I get mine out of my car.

I consider asking her to move into my car, but even getting them all in there seems dangerous.

I back my car into the pit and out behind the woman's car. I almost get stuck in the mud.

I park my car about fifty feet back, with the front fender hugging the white line.

Like, seriously close to the road. All but on it.

I want to force the cars to change lanes, to give us more space.

It's the driver's side rear tire. I go to work. Worse case scenario.

Cars are giving us a wider berth now. Peer pressure. People see other people changing lanes and copy them.

My car is parked uncomfortably close. Someone hits my car and I'm dead for sure.

I push a couple of rocks under the front tires of the car with the flat, so it doesn't roll. I let the kids stay in.

It's not the greatest idea. I don't feel like I have an option.

I get the tire swapped out. I'm grateful to find the spare is fully inflated.

You never really know until you drop the jack.

Through the passenger window I tell the pregnant woman it's wise to get the main tire fixed as soon as possible.

I put my lug wrench in the back with her flat tire. Gratefully it was a match, and she needs it more than I do.

She drives off.

I whip out my phone to put a reminder to buy a new lug wrench on the way home.

I'm staring at my phone when I hear a loud crunch, and see my empty, driverless car coming at me.

What the heck!? Is my car possessed?

Apparently I wasn't the only one looking at my phone. The woman who hit me was texting her husband.

I barely escaped being run over by my own, empty car.

Both our cars were totaled.

Her airbags deployed.

She was shaken, and could use a martini. But was otherwise fine.

We were both glad I had parked my car like that. She didn't want to go to jail for manslaughter.

And that she was hadn't come by a few minutes before. She didn't want to live with the guilt of killing an entire family.

In the span of ten minutes I got hugs from two grateful women.


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