While driving home, I slowed as I approached an intersection notorious for its fatal accidents. As I closed in on the green light, the engine in my 1999 Toyota Camry shut down. I believe my Guardian Angel, who I habitually ask for protection, coaxed my car through the intersection and into a graveled dip on the side of the road.
A steep overgrown ditch bordered my car on the right and the blunt end of a guard rail protruded in the front. “I should’ve had the timing belt changed 8,000 miles ago!” I scolded myself as I activated the hazard lights. Another 1999 Toyota I owned went 120,000 miles on a 60,000-mile timing belt, so I played Russian roulette with this one driving it 68,000 miles. That’s what adrenaline junkies with no fire extinguishers do.
I lifted my jacket laying crumpled on the passenger seat. No purse! I did a frantic pat-down of my jacket and the seat. No phone! Clearly, I left them at my daughter’s house 15 miles west of my disabled car. Eight more miles east and I would have arrived home where I apparently left my brain-which doesn’t have any phone numbers in it anyway.
Since the two-lane road is a heavily patrolled state route, I contemplated waiting for the highway patrol to help, but I’d likely be cited for not having my driver’s license on me. Regardless of the consequences, I didn’t know how long the wait would be.
I also considered wandering around in search of a phone to call AAA, arranging a tow, and then walking back to my car. Even though I had a AAA tag on my key ring, I had no ID to confirm my identity as the goof waiting for a tow. My phone had my contact list, including my husband’s latest number, so I couldn’t call anyone else.
I decided to walk to my brother’s house two miles south of the intersection. Power walking never used to be an issue until I tripped over an uneven sidewalk onto the upper tibia of my left leg and cracked it. So hiking that distance, while dragging what still felt like the Liberty Bell, would take over an hour.
I took a deep stress-relieving breath, asked my overworked Guardian Angel to continue to watch over me, and exited my car. Staring at the key in my hand, I took two steps toward the intersection. When I looked up, a blue late-model Camaro SS sports car loomed in front of me as if it had dropped from the heavens.
A white-haired man, who appeared to be seventyish with a gentle look about him, greeted me through the open passenger window. “Can I give you a lift somewhere?” he asked in a tone that resonated like a lumberjack.
His left hand rested on the steering wheel and his right hand on the manual gear shifter between the seats. His large veiny hands looked capable of firmly gripping an ax and splitting a cord of wood-or strangling my scrawny neck.
I paused. Normally I’d never accept a ride, but I had concerns about aggravating my leg injury and leaving my car for a lengthy period in that location. And would my brother, who is always on the go, even be home?
He saw my hesitation, and said, “I was just out looking for something to do.” An air of loneliness clouded his voice. I felt our Guardian Angels hooked us up, so I agreed. Besides, there were no chainsaws in the back seat.
“My brother lives a couple miles from here. I’d appreciate a ride to his house.” I plopped into the bucket seat and the faint scent of leather wafted up my nose. Looking through the windshield, I saw two parallel racing stripes stretching down the hood hump. This high-performance machine could probably melt asphalt.
“Okay, I just moved to the area not long ago, so you just need to tell me how to get there,” he said.
I tucked my duct-taped Toyota key into my pocket. If he had decided to do the devil’s mischief in the guise of being a good Samaritan, my AAA tag would be dangling from one of his orifices where my key had accidentally gotten stuck.
I instructed him to turn left at the intersection behind us. Since he couldn’t make a U-turn, he had to drive in the opposite direction and swing around somewhere. He fumbled the Camaro’s shifter into first gear and released the clutch too fast causing the car to lurch forward.
“I’ve always wanted one of these, but I’m not used to driving it yet,” he told me matter-of-factly. His white shirt with pale stripes hung loosely over his khaki shorts, an attire comfortable for a street cruising golden-ager.
I glanced over my left shoulder to check oncoming traffic. He shifted into second gear and we lurched again. Third gear, lurch. After the last upshift-oh my gosh-the tires squealed in pain as they peeled rubber onto the blacktop and-vroom!-a jolt of power. I fully expected an oxygen mask to drop from the headliner as we rocketed forward.
I thought to myself, “He must be an angel who hasn’t learned to drive a stick shift for this earthly assignment.”
There were no side roads nearby, only a private airstrip with a short and steep entrance. As he downshifted and made a sudden sharp left turn onto the access drive, the exhaust pop, pop, popped! When he yanked the shifter into first gear, the mechanical beast let out a high-pitched shriek as it swung around to face the road.
My mind raced while I prayed, “Dear Lord, please help my rescuer hold his car on the hill with the clutch and safely upshift to the road!”
Each time he revved the Camaro forward on the upgrade, it yo-yoed backward to the bottom. Finally, like a metal missile slung from the slingshot of David, the giant slayer, it catapulted back into traffic.
After he careened left through the intersection, he sped by a narrow side street and said, “I live on that road.” All I saw were chickens pecking in a pothole.
Each time he shifted and lurched, he’d say “Oops, sorry” and conversed in-between. He told me, “My wife died four years ago. We were married for forty-two years. I miss her so much.” Then a lurch and “Oops, sorry!”
The revelation about his soul mate pulled on my heartstrings. I gave him my condolences, and then asked, “What brings you to the area?”
“My daughter lives nearby and one of my sisters doesn’t live far either,” he said. “There were 19 kids in my family, and only two have passed. One of my brothers died in a car accident and one of my sisters died from heart disease.” More condolences. More interjections of “Oops, sorry!”
He appeared proud to be from such a large family. I wanted to learn more about him, but he’d already whipped his muscle car into my brother’s driveway, jammed on the brakes, and said, “I won’t leave till you’re sure he’s home.”
I profusely thanked him, then asked, “Can I have your name and address? I’d like to send you a card.”
“No, I just wanted to help you and I don’t want anything for it,” he said squinting into the sunlight shining over my shoulder. “You just told me ‘Thank you’ and that’s enough.”
When my brother answered the door, I waved and smiled at the good Samaritan. He smiled broadly and nodded in return before throwing his rescue vehicle into reverse. It zipped onto the quiet neighborhood road where it bucked forward each time he slammed through a gear. Then-whoosh-the Camaro SS laid rubber and disappeared.
My brother drove me to my daughter’s home to retrieve my purse and phone before returning to my disabled car and tucking his vehicle behind it. Since I abandoned my Toyota on a major roadway, I expected to see a tag on the windshield warning that it would be impounded. Fortunately, local law enforcement hadn’t been by yet.
After I arranged a tow with AAA, the waiting period extended from one to three hours. As my brother and I stared at traffic, I commented, “Isn’t it odd not one state highway patrol car has cruised by since my Toyota has been parked on this heavily patrolled stretch of highway?”
“Yeah, that is weird,” he confirmed. “I haven’t seen any go by in either direction the whole time we’ve been sitting here.”
Shortly before an apologetic tow driver arrived and loaded up my car, my husband came and parked in an area across the highway. Since we couldn’t rendezvous there, we met at my brother’s house where my sister-in-law told me, “You’re lucky you found us at home. We’re usually not back on Fridays till later in the day.”
I don’t believe in lucky coincidences, especially when I’ve prayed for something. I believe in divine intervention. These are my reflections:
- My dead car coasted through a dangerous intersection and safely came to rest on an oasis spot-not mere chance.
- My good Samaritan listened to his inner voice and did the will of the angels by appearing before I reached the tail end of my car-not an arbitrary happening.
- My brother lived only two miles from where my car died, and he cut his errands short to come home earlier than planned-not a fluke.
- My car didn’t get tagged for being illegally parked and I didn’t get cited by the state highway patrol for being unlicensed-unadulterated dumb luck.
I glorify God and his angels for answering my prayers and for sending a burnout master in a butt-kicking machine to rescue me. Hopefully, my earthly angel will learn to bridle his powerful Camaro SS dream car before running over any chickens.
Psalms 91:9-12, NAB
Because you have the LORD for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold, no evil shall befall you, no afflictions come near your tent. For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.Psalms 91:9-12, NAB
Hebrews 13:2, NAB
Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.Hebrews 13:2, NAB
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