To this day, the details of this story amaze even me, and I am the one it happened to.
Memorial Day Weekend had arrived. I was attending college in PA, my fiance was stationed at an army base in southern Georgia. Our wedding was 6 weeks away. Plane ticket in hand, I packed my suitcase in the trunk of my 11-year-old used car and began the roughly 3-hour drive to the airport. (The naivete of youth.) About half-way there, the inevitable happened–the car began to have issues. Amazingly, with lots of coos and kind thoughts, somehow the car straightened itself out. I made it to the airport, caught the plane on time and went to Georgia for the weekend.
Fast forward to Monday. The trip is over, but the adventure has just begun. Driving back to campus, the car was performing pretty well, but occasionally hesitating as if it were not getting gasoline to the engine. At that point, I spotted 3 hitchhikers on their way back to the same school. Just in case I needed a push, I decided to offer them a ride. Good decision.
Things were going along pretty well until we reached a stretch of road that climbed up the mountainside. That’s when the car problem became serious. It coughed and sputtered and jerked and wheezed about half-way up the mountain before deciding it was just too tired to move. At that point, my one moment of foresight (picking up the hitch hikers) paid off. They helped push the car to the side of the road, while I contemplated my options.
This happened in the days before cell phones. Then, there was that the other little detail: I had not told my father that I was going away for the weekend. My mother knew, but not my father. Calling Dad to drive about 90 minutes from home to help me with a stranded automobile was not a happy option.
My hitch hikers were gallant. When I told them that they should just start thumbing from here to get back to school, they insisted on staying with me. Then, out of nowhere a man and woman out for a holiday drive in their convertible, stopped and asked what was wrong. Not knowing what was wrong, we described the symptoms. Before I could blink twice he was under the hood and had figured out that the problem was a bad fuel pump. Cars were much less complicated then.
Now I am in a pickle. It’s 5:00 pm Memorial Day and options are slim. Then the man says, “You know, I think I have a fuel pump for that car back at the house. I’ll go get it and you’ll be on your way in no time.” Which is exactly what happened. He and his wife drove back to their house. He found the fuel pump (for an 11-year-old car!), returned and put it on my car. To put the icing on the cake, he refused the $10.00 I tried to give him. (All the money I had left after the weekend trip.)
When I think of what happened that day, I still shake my head in amazement. Life has brought its share of ups and downs, but all-in-all, I still feel like I live under a Lucky Star.