It was a dark and stormy night. I was driving on the freeway in my $100 car (a Toyota Tercel that would not go into first) when the passenger tire blew out. The ceaseless rain pelted my windows as I careened to the right. The car slowed and I was able to stop safely on the shoulder.
My 4 year old daughter was with me. We were going to meet some friends for a Christmas party. She and I were dressed in our finest party clothes, consisting of whatever funky get-ups we found at the Thrift Store. I wrapped my giant white faux-fur coat around my daughter and put a baseball cap I had in the trunk on her head and we walked to the nearest exit, in the dark unrelenting rain.
This was an interesting time in my life. My daughter and I lived in a one bedroom apartment. We were on food stamps, I worked 2 jobs and went to beauty school. We made do with what we had. I dont remember ever feeling like we had less than or that we needed more. I was working hard to bring us a better life in the future. A life that provided the income we needed to get by without relying on anyone.
As we trudged through the rain a White Subaru Outback pulled over to help us, we were cold and wet. She asked if the car back there was mine, and what happened. I told her. She was so sweet, and offered to drive us, you see I didnt even have a cell phone. We arrived at a 7-11 and I called my boyfriend and waited for him to arrive.
As we waited we talked about life and she asked me about mine. I felt a little self conscious, I could tell she had money, at least more than I had, and I worried about what she must think of me.
My boyfriend pulled up she looked right at me and handed me a $100 bill to fix my tire. I told her that I could take care of it, and she asked me honestly if I had the money to do it. I did not. I would ask my boyfriend for it I told her. She handed me the money, forcing me to take it and her words are etched in my mind It has been my experience that men can be unreliable I started crying and thanked her. She said these final words before we parted pay it forward.
I know my calling is to help people. Sometimes it is at work, touching a person, making them feel beautiful or handsome, or accepted. Sometimes it is giving the person in line in front of me at the grocery store a buck to help them finish paying for their groceries. Sometimes it is looking an elderly person in eye, really seeing them. Sometimes it is talking to a stranger. But, there is a deeper calling.
I know what that is. I have known since that fateful night in the rain. Thank you beautiful woman in the Subaru. You changed me.