Valentine’s Day Car-ma

My neighbor Rose called me early this morning to say, “Have you looked out your front window yet?”

I had not. I was still in my pajamas.

After a slight hesitation, she said, “My car is in your front yard.”

It was.

I do not know anyone with worse car karma than Rose and her family.  In the fourteen years we’ve been next door neighbors, some crazy shit has gone down. On three separate occasions, drivers zooming down Portland ave. smashed the rear view mirror off a van Rose’s husband used for his electrical contracting business.

The same van had been broken into twice while parked directly in front of their home. The second break-in was immediately after her husband had replaced the expensive tools stolen the first time.

Twice, drunk drivers sideswiped Rose’s street-parked car. A different time, a drunk driver rammed Rose’s daughter’s car so unbelievably hard from behind that it literally pushed the car under Rose’s suburban. Both cars were significantly damaged.

Looking at the scene from my front window the morning after this happened, I had thought Rose had backed her minivan over her daughter’s car.

Last night, someone rammed one of their cars again, this time pushing it from street-side parking into my front yard.

Of course, nobody left a note. They just drove away.

Nice way to begin Valentine’s Day, huh?

Rose, her daughter, and I did our best to push the car free. Minnesota’s weather conspired against us. The front left tire spun without traction. The snow and ice packed underneath the frame had frozen solid, making it impossible to free.

I jogged away to retrieve cardboard to place under the spinning tire.

When I returned from my basement, three men had joined Rose and her daughter. One man was older with black and grey dreadlocks pulled up behind his head into something like a bun. Another man seemed like he was in his early 20′s and his face wore surprise, like perhaps he didn’t know why he had stopped to help. The third man spoke with a Middle Eastern accent and he grinned at me when I returned, nodding at the cardboard. He said, “Good idea.”

As we struggled to push, pull, and dig out the ice from under the car frame, I noticed the Middle Eastern man wore white business-wear alligator shoes. Not boots.

I’m sorry to say that my first reaction was to think, ‘If I were wearing those shoes, I’m not sure I would have pulled over to help.’

Clearly, he’s a better person than I am in that regard, because he did pull over, despite not being perfectly dressed for the occasion. He did not hesitate for a moment to get on his knees to dig out ice and snow.

While the dreadlocks man attempted to rock the car from the front, he casually said, “I have to be careful pushing too hard; I have a bad back.”

A bad back? Why the hell did he pull over to help?

Again, another Samaritan who probably should have said, “Not me. I can’t help this time.”

But he did.

By the time we succeeded, and yes, we did succeed, I shyly marveled at these Valentine’s helpers. Ill-prepared for manual labor in the cold, they stopped. They got out of their cars on an ordinary Thursday morning because they saw a woman in trouble. Maybe they stopped because it was Valentine’s Day, a day we’re all supposed to remember the world is full of love, but I don’t think so.

I think these are men who would have stopped any day.

The young man who looked perpetually surprised seemed genuinely surprised (of course) we freed the car.

We all cheered and clapped our gloves, and Rose thanked them individually.

The surprised young man jogged back to his vehicle, a minivan, and as I waved goodbye to him, a cheerful woman in the passenger seat joined him in waving effusively. Obviously, he had somewhere to go as well, but he made time and his lady waited patiently while he performed this act of service.

I received well-wishes from near and far today, Facebook posts, text messages, and even homemade cookies from mom.

But nothing warmed my heart today, made me feel connected to the deeper love, like those three unlikely strangers who decided, ‘I can help. So I will.’

4 Responses to “Valentine’s Day Car-ma”

  1. Julianne Says:

    Awww…. There is so much good in the world, in people’s hearts. I’m so glad you (and your unlucky neighbors) got to see some of it today. :)

  2. Leslie Roxworthy Says:

    On this Valentine’s Day — the 1st anniversary of my beloved dog’s passing and the 5th anniversary of tragedy at our alma mater NIU — I can now hit the sack thinking good stuff happened, too. Thanks, I needed that!

  3. Roselin Berg Says:

    I am the unlucky neighbor. yes I am blessed to have a neighbor like Edmond And the Good Samaritans that stopped to help. only Edmund would remember the details so clearly.

  4. Tony Says:

    I couldn’t help but picture MTM, opening scene after the credits roll and Mary Richards is sitting at home, enjoying a coffee on a weekend morning, when suddenly Rhoda knocks on the door… “Hey Mare, have you looked out your front window yet?”

    Thanks for the blog Edmond. It’s good to remember that happy endings don’t just happen on TV.

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