IT’S MY LIFE

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting - TRIC KEAR­NEY

DUR­ING the re­cent visit of the Beast from the East I read many ex­am­ples of kind­ness, in­clud­ing one lady who vol­un­teered to visit a stranger’s mother in hos­pi­tal as her daugh­ter was un­able to travel, due to the snow.

It was lovely to be re­minded that there are many good peo­ple out there.

With that in mind, I too have a story to tell of a kind stranger, who per­haps to this day won­ders why he both­ered.

As with all good sto­ries, it hap­pened one dark and gloomy night. I was trav­el­ling home when I noted my car’s petrol light was on for the fourth day in a row.

I pulled into a garage, but­toned up my coat and stood wait­ing for petrol to be­gin pump­ing into my car, but noth­ing hap­pened. I pulled the trig­ger a few times but still noth­ing. It was only then I no­ticed a small sign on the pump, ‘Out of or­der’.

Per­haps if it had not been so cold I might have han­dled the sit­u­a­tion bet­ter?

In­stead, I went from zero to fu­ri­ous. I re­placed the fuel han­dle and in a fit of tem­per revved my way out of the garage, de­ter­mined not to give them a sniff of my money.

Ap­prox­i­mately two miles later I re­gret­ted my haste. On a busy, un­lit road with no foot­path, my car died a quiet death. I sat for a while in de­nial

I came close to car­diac ar­rest when I saw it was a man in a van, ev­ery­one knows vans are pre­ferred by kid­nap­pers

be­fore roar­ing at the in­com­pe­tence of the garage and blam­ing the car. If it had only kept go­ing a few more min­utes, I’d have reached the next garage.

Rem­i­nis­cent of my tantrum-filled teenage days, I slammed the car door be­fore kick­ing the front wheel many times. The usu­ally busy road was dark and quiet but dressed in black I couldn’t risk walk­ing it, so I walked into the ditch and took a few steps.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to walk in a ditch in dark­ness but it’s im­pos­si­ble. The ground rises and falls un­seen and any­one pass­ing by might sus­pect I’d drink taken if wit­ness­ing my first few steps.

The air was blue with my mut­ter­ings when I heard a car slow down be­hind me. I came close to car­diac ar­rest when I saw it was a man in a van, ev­ery­one knows vans are pre­ferred by kid­nap­pers.

I lurched along the ditch as he fol­lowed. “You OK?” he shouted. “Yes, thank you,” I replied star­ing straight ahead.

“I saw you kick­ing your car. Is it bro­ken down?”

“No, it’s fine. I’m just go­ing for a walk.”

Slow to take the hint, he drove ahead and pulled in.

“If you’re out of petrol I can bring you to the garage.”

I walked past ig­nor­ing him. Once again he drove on and pulled in.

“Why not let me get you petrol and bring it back to you?”

I stopped. Surely there was no chance of be­ing ab­ducted in that sce­nario? So, I agreed. Ten min­utes later he re­turned as promised and emp­tied five euro of petrol into my car.

“Here,” he said putting a new petrol can into the back seat, “I’d no can in the van, you might as well keep it.”

Strug­gling to find words to say thank you, I reached into my pock­ets to re­pay him. It was only then I re­mem­bered I’d no cash on me only my debit cards. “Please fol­low me to the cash ma­chine so I can re­pay you?” I said, more em­bar­rassed than I’ve ever been in my life.

“Not at all,” he said get­ting into his van. “De­lighted I could help. Safe home.”

Thanks to my knight in shin­ing ar­mour, I did make it home safely that night and I’ve never for­got­ten him or his kind­ness.

Al­though I do hope he’s for­got­ten me.

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