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Everyone Needs a Little Help Sometimes

“Everyone needs a little help sometime.”

The person saying this to me was sitting in my front seat. We were trying to turn left on Woodruff Road. I had never met him before, and didn’t know his name.

Perhaps I should back up:

About six weeks ago I ran out of gas.

It was a humiliating experience. A self inflicted wound. I was on my way to radiation and thought I could fill up afterwards. As I pulled onto highway 85 I felt my engine cough. I was a mile from the exit and there was no way I was going to make it. It was 6:45 in the morning. Pitch black outside. I pulled off on the side of the highway, called Jaimie, and told her she had to come and save me.

Forty-five minutes later, she pulled up behind me. She had bought one of those red gas tanks and filled it up. But there was problem. The thing had a child safety lock and I could not for the life of me figure out how to undo it. For twenty minute I pushed and pulled and looked for videos on Youtube while 18 wheelers zoomed past. The only thing worse than not being able to open this gas can was having Jaimie watch me not be able to open the gas can. So I White Fanged her. I told her to leave. She didn’t want to leave. It’s the only way, I said. I don’t want you to see me like this, I exclaimed.

So she got into her Elantra, eyes filled with tears, and left me on the side of the highway.

Fifteen more minutes passed and I could not get the cap to budge. I was yelling. I was screaming. Finally I just decided to break the thing. I don’t know how I did it, but I channeled my inner Thor, ripped that cap off, and free poured the contents of the can into the tank. My hands were drenched in gasoline. When I thought I had enough in there to get me to the exit, I left the can on the side of the road, and headed for the QT.

I tried to wash my hands as much as I could, but it couldn’t cover the stench of the fumes. I was an hour late to my radiation appointment. I apologized for smelling like a refinery.

Cut back to yesterday.

While driving on that exact same stretch of highway 85, I saw on older gentleman walking on the side of the highway, carrying a plastic jug. I had a moment of instant recognition. I knew what happened. I knew where he was going. And I knew the humiliation he must have felt walking down that road.

So I pulled over. I drove him to that very same QT, and took him back to his car on the side of the road. We didn’t talk too much. He was a fork lift driver at a warehouse in Greer. He used to drive a school bus in Elizabeth, New Jersey. And as we were waiting at that stop light on Woodruff Road, he said, “Everyone needs a little help sometime.”

I’m not writing this to humblebrag about what a Good Samaritan I am.

I’m also not endorsing picking up strangers on the side of the road.

But I think the reason we go through things, are so when other people go through things, we can recognize the things they are going through.

Because everyone needs a little help sometimes.

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