Earth Angels: Part Two (Pay it Forward)

One morning I was running late for work, per usual.  My gas gauge was noticeably low, but I didn’t stop for gas, knowing that stopping would add to my tardiness.  I guess you can say I like to live on the edge, or maybe it’s a genetic thing.

See, growing up, my father was notorious for letting his car run out of gas–while his kids were still in it.  It was so bad in fact, that there was this one spot on the road that we knew if we got past it, we were somehow in the clear.  We knew the spot well because we had walked the few miles from there to the gas station a few times.  Perhaps this was a game.   I don’t know why he would do this exactly.  He claimed the gas gauge was broken.  In fact, there were other places at other times, in other areas of California that we also ran out of gas, but that’s another story.  I think  he liked to live on the edge, or maybe it was something else, maybe his reasoning skills are broken.  And Dad, if you’re reading this, you know it’s true.  Back in those days, you could hitch-hike to a certain extent without the same kind of worries that you have today.  Needless to say, I grew up thinking running out of gas was sort of fun?  Now I know that it’s terrible for your car, ruining pipes and so forth and being in L.A., it’s definitely dangerous.  So let’s just say that I don’t wait until the last-minute any longer.

I had run out of gas a long time ago, around the age of 18.  The steering wheel had locked up, something I didn’t know about at that time.  It was scary, but I was lucky because a police officer had seen me, pulled over, and literally pushed my car with his car, around the corner to a gas station.  Was he another Earth Angel?

So here I was, driving to work, with a very low gas tank.  Traffic had come to a stand-still and I started to really worry.  I was on the freeway and I really didn’t know for sure if I was going to make it to the next exit.  Sitting there, in traffic, not moving, was lowering my chances of EVER making it to work.  It was a hot day, but I knew better than to run the air conditioning or else I definitely wouldn’t make it off the freeway.

I finally made it to my exit and my gas tank still hadn’t hit the R yet.  I was convinced that I could make it all the way to work as long as it didn’t hit the R.  That was, until that familiar feeling in my steering wheel hit.  Right as it did, it dawned on me that I had just passed a gas station.  I immediately flipped a u-turn, struggling with my steering wheel.  It just so happened that there were no cars on the street at that moment when I did this, and this is L.A. in the Wilshire district, making it a strange serendipitous coincidence.

As my car struggled on its last fumes, I attempted to roll up to a gas pump.  This was going slightly uphill in the drive-way.  I realized quickly that I wasn’t totally going to make it.  As my car started to drift backwards, I immediately pulled the emergency brake to stop it from rolling back into the street.  I had at least made it to the gas station.  This was a true miracle.

I was feeling REALLY lucky at this point.   I had just ran out of gas and for the life of me, I had no idea how I had been so lucky that I was able to literally roll right into a gas station.  I am a glass is half-full kind of person, so I knew no matter what, I was going to feel lucky for the rest of the day.  I felt like someone was watching over me.  What if I had run out of gas on the freeway?  I was in a fairly safe neighborhood in L.A.  There was nothing that could keep me from smiling for the rest of the day.

Stupidly, I was un-prepared though.  I didn’t know my debit card number by heart (still) and the gas station didn’t take credit cards.  I didn’t have any cash on me and I couldn’t call anyone because my phone was dead.  I didn’t have any change on me, not even a penny.  At this point I was feeling like quite the idiot.  I didn’t worry.  I knew if I had to, I could walk to work, even if I was in heels…… it was only a couple of miles away.   I knew there was a solution, I just didn’t know what it was going to be quite yet.  The guy at the gas station wasn’t going to help me, nor was anyone in line, so I started walking back to my car, wondering what I was going to do next.

Luckily an Earth Angel came to my rescue.  He asked me what happened to my car, (as he was getting gas) and I explained that I was an idiot and ran out of gas and that I’d use my credit card but they only take debit and I’d call someone for help but my phone was dead.  I told him not to worry, that I would figure something out.  He told me to hold on.  I didn’t know what he meant but I said ok.  And then he asked me to hold the gas pump.  “Don’t put the pump back,” he said.  He asked for my keys and so I gave my keys to him.  I wasn’t worried about him stealing my car.  It didn’t have any gas and his car was far nicer than mine, how would he drive two?  So I waited, wondering what his plan was.

He got in my car, took the break off and with the help of another person, (another Earth Angel) who kindly jumped in, pushed my car up to the pump.  He put $2 worth of gas in my car and told me where a nearby gas station was that took credit cards.  I thanked him profusely and said, “I wish there was something I could give to you.”  He said in return, “Just pay it forward.”

He was right.  That kind of kindness comes from somewhere unexplainable, somewhere so sweet and true, it gives me goosebumps.  I don’t know that I’ve paid it forward yet, not quite to that extreme, but I hope to be as kind, to be as wonderful as he and someday be someone else’s Earth Angel.

Earth Angels: Part One

I wanted to tell you a couple of recent experiences of mine.  Let me just preface that I am an incredibly lucky person, or maybe, just maybe, I have angels in high places taking care of me.  I do have plenty of bad things happen, but I always come out ok in the end.  When people help me, in an exceptional way, I consider them “earth angels”. But how does one know for sure that this person really exists?  Whatever the case, they are angels just the same.

I was about to tell you a few stories in regards to me, but it just occurred to me that there’s one more story I should add.  And so,  since it was so long ago, I’m going to begin with a story that really isn’t mine to tell…..

When I was a teenager, I had a wonderful boyfriend.  He was beyond handsome, part French, and a great story teller.  But that didn’t make this story un-true.  He was also a person I would say that was blessed with luck.  When I was with him, uncanny coincidences would happen, and I would swear he was the luckiest person I knew. In fact, he even called himself “the luckiest man in the world”, though he was still really just a boy at that time.  A boy nonetheless, seconds away from growing into a man, a very charming man, that is.

One night, my boyfriend and his friend were on a long drive…. They drove each weekend to see my girlfriend and I.  Yes, my best girlfriend was dating his best friend.  It’s almost straight out of an old-time flick, only this one is real and isn’t starring Cybill Shepherd.  After seeing us, they were off again on their hour and a half drive back to Vacaville CA.

While driving in Sacramento, about an hour out of the small town where I lived, they began experiencing car trouble. In a car I would say was a real clunker, with  oodles of miles, worn tires, and a general sense that it could break down any minute, the car did what was expected, it broke down, but in the worst of locations.  Since he was in H.S., it was a car just the same, something to be proud that you had, and he was willing to drive it until it puckered out.

At the time, the two of these boys were going over a massive bridge, the kind that diesel trucks gained higher speeds than this car could.  I don’t know the full details, but I remember it was dangerous.  My boyfriend told my family and I this story, hands flailing about, and something about a diesel truck and almost getting run off the bridge.  It was terribly late at night and they didn’t know what to do.  They somehow got themselves off this bridge by foot, on a bridge without a foot path, and looked for help.  No AAA, no cell phones, (they weren’t invented yet!), they were on their own.  And out of nowhere, they met an old bum.  That’s right, a bum. And the bum asked if he could help them.  They told the bum about their car, and about how it broke down, in great detail.  By the story alone, of how the car acted, the bum made a suggestion.  I know it had something to do with the stick shift and how it was no longer working, etc.  I know nothing about cars so I do apologize now for having a story with holes in it.  But I am doing the best I can.

The bum, after hearing the story, told these two boys that they needed a bolt.  A bolt had come off the car, he explained, something with the stick shift and if they got a bolt that fit just right, they’d be on their merry way.  Confused but intrigued, they kept listening.  The bum then told them to check behind a sign that was way off in the distance.  They were definitely confused at this point, how this bum knew that a bolt on some sign way off in the distance was going to fix their car, but they didn’t have any better options, so they did what the bum said.

I wish I knew what the sign said…because it seems like that could be an important part of the story, but I don’t.  The bum had told them to go behind the sign and unscrew one of the bolts.  And so they did.  It came off easily, just as he said it would.  When they returned, ready to thank the bum for the hopeful bolt in their hand, the bum had disappeared.

They walked back to the car and sure enough, the bold fit like a glove on whatever it was, and voila!  The car could now be driven!

When they told my family this story later, they were both convinced that this man was a real angel.   They had worried they were going to get hit on that bridge or that they were going to be stranded for a long while, in a dangerous part of town.  So they believed with all their heart that this was one of their angels, come to help them out in a time of need. And the rest of us, the listeners, felt goose bumps as the story was told and  thankful that if this was an angel that he was there to help these boys get home safe that night.

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