You never know when someone’s good deed will become a pivotal moment in your life causing you to pause and reflect.
It was the week before I started my freshman year at Cornell. My parents rented a van and I tried my best to fit my entire life in it for what was supposed to be a six-hour trip. We left late in the afternoon, near the time of rush hour – against all of my father’s advice to leave earlier. We were doing fine – until of course, we got lost. By nightfall, the van began to drag very slowly. I found out to my horror that it was because it was too heavy with my belongings. Nevertheless, we continued to inch our way along the breakdown lane. The “highway,” which was really a skinny stretch of land in the middle of nowhere, was pitch black from the dearth of cars.
My father eventually pulled into the driveway of someone’s home. It was the middle of the night. He got out, walked to the door, and rang the doorbell, not knowing what to expect. I saw him talking to someone who opened the door. Then a few minutes later, a senior man came out, got into his car or truck and asked us to follow him. He drove us to the nearest rest stop. We were in Utica. We had been trying to get to Ithaca. The man who answered the door didn’t answer with a gun, but instead brought blankets so that we could cover ourselves in our van. I barely slept though because I had no idea where we were. When the sun rose, the man who drove us to the rest stop came back with his wife. They brought us breakfast – as in actually paid for – my mother, father, two sisters, cousin, and me. Then, they sent us on our way. We made it to Ithaca, waaaay more than six hours after we had initially left my house.
Four years later, I graduated Cornell. To my initial embarrassment, I learned that my father had kept in touch with this man and would stop by his house to visit whenever he had finished driving me to school (Dad, don’t overstay your welcome, I thought when he told me this. My father can be one of those people, for better or for worse). In my case though, it turned out to be for the better. The man who saved us, whose name I only somewhat recall, ended up sending me a $25 check after he learned that I graduated Cornell, just to say congratulations. A few years earlier, we – I – who had showed up at his door-step in the middle of the night, had just been a stranger to him. If I had been him, I probably would have given the person directions and sent them on their way – or worse, I probably would have been too scared to open my own door.
But he wasn’t. And he saved my family from what could have been a harrowing experience. And four years later, he remembered me.
There are really good people in this world, and whenever I get bombarded by the negative news out there, I tend to forget this. But someone out there whom you haven’t met yet, may one day become your guardian angel. And it’s the actions of these people that really make me think.
Maybe one day, I’ll be someone’s guardian angel too.