Monday, August 25, 2014

A Stranger Named Earl

(I'm trying to be more consistent with writing, so the writing prompt for today was "write about the kindness of strangers." What follows is a snapshot of an event that actually happened. Here's to Earl. :))

I didn’t know you, and you didn’t know me, but you pulled over when you saw my car stopped on the side of the road. “Do you need help?” you kept asking. No, no, I wanted to say, I’m fine, please go. He parked behind me. My heart started to thud rhythmically like an alarm, the words “stranger danger” throbbing in my ears. Turns out you were harmless. We both looked under the hood with furrowed brows, neither of us really knowing the problem. I doubted your knowledge of vehicles, but gathered it had to be greater than mine. I think our look of serious concentration could have fooled passer-bys into mistaking our confusion for intellect.

You waited with me until AAA came and towed my car, even though you didn’t have to. We made small talk about how nice the weather was in November, how it could have been much colder and much more uncomfortable to wait outside. You told me about your daughter and her schooling. I told you about my long-distance relationship and you murmured knowingly as I shared my love life. We talked about Thanksgiving feasts and good food. I had never heard of half the things you enjoyed eating, but I nodded in cordiality. I was brave enough to share my name with you. “Earl,” you said. “Nice to meet you, and thank you,” I said. I couldn’t thank you enough. Surely you had somewhere to go. No. You wouldn’t leave me waiting alone.

AAA came to tow my car and my ride arrived shortly after. “Thank you, Earl,” I said. I was a few hours behind schedule that day, but the day had pleasantly surprised me despite my car’s disrepair. Every time I pass the gravel shoulder where I pulled off in a panic, thinking my car was going to die any second, I think of Earl and say a prayer for him and his family.

We need more Earls in this world.

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