I am one of those people who have a million people to thank for helping me be the person I am. So, because there are a million of them, I won’t attempt to do so here. Instead I’ll say to them “you know who you are” because they do.
There is one who does not – and he never will.
My first job was in Owego, NY, a small village about 17 miles West of Binghamton and 10 miles North of the PA state line, right along the Susquehanna River. Owego sat squarely in the snowbelt; rarely a day in winter went by when there weren’t at least flurries.
One snowy, overcast evening, I was driving East on Route 17 toward home when my car died alongside the highway. I’d managed to steer it off, but it simply stopped running (I found out later it was the transmission).
I popped the hood and watched the steam rise, a combination of whatever ailed it and the snow hitting the hot engine. The sky was getting darker, the hour later and I was facing a mile walk to nearest emergency phone; these were the days before cell phones, about 15 years ago.
Suddenly, a white van pulled up in front of my car and a man in a full jumpsuit emerged. The local cable company’s logo was on the side of the van, as well as his suit.
The man asked what was wrong and if I needed any help. I didn’t know, I told him. It just died. It was old, and I didn’t have a clue.
Then the very kind, generous man offered me a ride to the nearest phone so I could call the tow truck.
I stared at him. I was a reporter, after all. I was skeptical. Do I trust this person? Do I get in the van with him? I mean, the man did have cables, tools and ropes in the van.
I could see the headline in the paper – MY paper – and the hideous company ID photo with my glasses and bad perm next to it: Reporter Found Alongside Route 17; Cable Guy in Custody.
So I asked my good samaritan for ID.
Like the true gentleman that he was, he obliged, and I got into the truck with him.
He drove me to the nearby diner where he asked the owner to let me use the house phone; apparently he was a regular. I thanked him, and he left.
After calling the tow truck, I sat at the counter. The owner brought me coffee and a muffin to eat while I waited – and I wondered who the hell I was.
Here was a man, stopping by the side of a snowy road, obviously at the end of his day, taking the trouble to help a stranded passenger … and I was asking him for ID. I can only hope that later, at the bar with his co-workers, they were all able to get a good laugh out of the edgy chick with bad hair.
The moral of the story: Always be careful … just not so careful that you miss a gift when it comes your way.
And always say thank you. Thank you, Cable Guy.