Monday, September 5, 2011

The Tables Turn Around

Thirteen years ago, Georgia Boy and I honeymooned on St Simons Island.  We didn't get to leave for our honeymoon until Friday night, close to 10:00, due to some repairs he needed on the truck (if I remember right, a new wiper motor as well as new tires).  If you've ever driven from the Atlanta area to Savannah or below, you've most likely spent time on I-16.  It's the longest, loneliest highway that I've ever seen in Georgia.  Miles and miles of nothing - exits spaced several miles apart, no street lights, most exits don't even have a gas station or a restaurant.... It's just pretty much barren.  We didn't hit I-16 until a little before 11:00, and the road was pretty much empty of travelers by that time, too.

The truck we had at the time had been sunk in a river before Georgia Boy and I met.  It ran again, after a little work, but some of the electronic things had given out (like the wiper motor mentioned above, the radio, and the gas gauge).  We came upon an exit that had a gas station - a rare find - and I told Georgia Boy we should stop for gas just to be safe.  He insisted that we had plenty of gas and passed the exit by.  Bad idea!  About a mile before the next exit, the truck started sputtering.  We came to a stop along the pitch black highway, stranded without gas and without a gas can.

At first, Georgia Boy didn't know what was the better thing to do - leave me alone in the truck so that I wouldn't have to walk along the dark highway, or have me walk with him.  We finally opted for me to walk along his side, thankful to have found a flashlight in his truck.  We took off together, glued to each other's side, headed for the exit we could see ahead.  As we started walking, a single vehicle came down the highway and rolled to a stop.  It was a couple that lived in the same county we were from, offering us help.  They told us had they not seen both a man and a woman, they would've continued to ride on, not completely convinced that it was safe to pull over and help us, but that they felt much more comfortable about it knowing that we were a couple in need of assistance.  They took us to the gas station at the next exit, where we purchased a gas can and enough gas to get us to the station, then drove us back to the exit we'd passed to turn around so that they could drive us back to our truck.  Once we put gas in the truck, they followed us to the gas station to make sure we made it safely so we could fill up.  They wouldn't take any money for the help they'd offered us, and asked us to pay it forward.  Since then, we've often found ways to help others and pay it forward, but nothing like what we experienced yesterday.

Saturday, we returned to St Simon's for kind of a second honeymoon.  We returned home yesterday evening.  Driving along I-16, we became very tired and decided to stop for a late lunch/early dinner at Cracker Barrel. Not five minutes after getting back on I-16, we saw a lady on the side of the road with a flat tire.  This time, it was time for the tables to be turned and for us to help a stranded motorist on I-16.

Helping this lady turned out to be quite an adventure!  We couldn't find any Walmart listed on our GPS that was closer than 25 miles away, so we decided to find the closest tire shop and either pray that it was open or pray that there would be a business near there that could tell us where to find a business that was open that could help her out.  I put in the address of the tire shop and we took off.  As we got to our destination, we discovered three things: 1) The tire shop was no longer where it was supposed to be.  2) A Walmart Supercenter (complete with tire shop) had been built across the street from where the tire shop was supposed to have been.  3) We had forgotten to bring her rim with us to get the new tire put on.  Still, we went into the tire shop and asked about our options, trying to figure out if they knew of a towing company that could bring the car there for her.

After talking with the men in the shop at Walmart, we decided to go back to the car and get the rim, where we would return to Walmart and get the tire put on.  Easier said than done, since the lug-nuts ended up being too tight to take the rim off the car.  She managed to get in touch with her insurance company, who said they'd send out a truck that would be able to get the rim off and put the new tire on the rim for her if we would just go get the tire.  Since the truck would be almost an hour responding, we took off to get the tire.  We purchased the tire and took it back to the car, where we discovered that the truck had arrived and the rim was off the car.  Then we discovered that the driver was not able to put the new tire on the rim as we'd been told... and that the tire we'd been given was the wrong rim size from what we'd requested.  We loaded up the rim and tire and headed back to Walmart for round three.  About an hour later, we finally had her on the road with her new tire on her car.

It took 13 years, but we had finally had the opportunity to truly pay it forward for the couple who'd helped us on our honeymoon... and we'd made a new friend in the process.

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