A true short story I wrote some time ago:
It was the middle of the night on one of those long and lonely stretches of Interstate 5 between distant small farming communities. My mom and her girlfriend were taking me and 4 of their other children to Disneyland. All 8 of us were jammed into our Travel-All, a large SUV’s-type vehicle that had huge and heavy tires that were made for 4-wheeling.
Suddenly our vehicle began wobbling wildly, as if the big beast was trying to decide whether to flip over sideways or end-over-end! We started spinning while bucking violently from side to side. A kaleidoscope of zig-zagging spinning lights streaked all around us as we grabbed in sheer terror for something to hang onto as we braced for the inevitable crash or roll.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl while our world spun out of control in a never-ending fast-motion nightmare. As we stopped spinning we were hit with a shockwave of blaring horns and the glaring lights of two rapidly approaching eighteen-wheelers as our dazed brains came to the realization that we were straddling both lanes while facing the wrong way on the freeway!
There was no time to react or to get out of the way. We watched in sheer terror as the big rigs roared past just inches away from each side of us. Our Travel-All shook, but I don’t know whether it was from the trucks rocketing past so close to us or from our trembling nerves.
We limped off to the side of the highway. It was very dark, but it was clear that both a front and rear tire that were diagonally opposite each other had blown nearly simultaneously. We were lucky to be alive!
But we remained in a dangerous situation; stuck on the side of the freeway with one spare tire and two flats, in the dark with cars whizzing by.
A man driving a big rig stopped, sized up our predicament, and offered to take one of us to the nearest town where he knew someone he could call who could help us. I could tell that our moms didn’t want to leave the little kids, nor be alone with a strange man on a dark highway, miles away from anyone, so as the oldest child it was up to me to go. I was scared too, but my going with him seemed the best option.
As it turns out, I had nothing to be scared about. The trucker got me safely to his friend’s shop, woke him, and he worked several hours through the night to get us back on the road again.
I’ll never forget the kindness and consideration shown by those men. It would have been much easier for the trucker to ignore us and to keep to his schedule, and for the shop owner to say, “Sorry we’re closed until tomorrow morning”, but they both chose a different way–and that made all of the difference for two mom’s and a truck load of impressionable kids who learned some valuable lessons about the huge difference kindness can make in the lives of others.