I sat in the passenger seat; Dustin sat in the driver’s seat. It was a cold October afternoon and we sat side by side in that small car without saying too much to each other. Two grown men in a small space with just a console between them. Waiting.
A phone vibrated suddenly and Dustin quickly answered it. “Yeah. I went to turn the car on and it just wouldn’t start. You’re going to have to come get us. No, I haven’t asked anyone around here for help. Yes, we’re in a church parking lot. Yes, people are here. It’s a funeral it seems. I’m not going to walk in during a funeral and ask if somebody has jumper cables.”
The call ended and Dustin turned towards the back and smiled sweetly to the baby girl in the car seat. “McKenzi, Mommy’s going to come rescue us.”
Dustin and I ended up in this strange stranded situation when my friend Michelle asked if I could go to a wedding with her. I agreed, partly because it sounded like it could be fun and partly because I knew she didn’t want to go alone. We drove two hours down to a small town called Manti, Utah where the son of her close family friends, the Jacksons, was getting married.
I, of course, couldn’t go into the sealing ceremony at the LDS Manti Temple for religious reasons. And although Michelle’s brother-in-law Dustin could go in, he volunteered to stay with the baby so that his wife Tori could attend. That meant that Dustin, baby McKenzi and I were to hang out for an hour or so.
There wasn’t a lot to do in Manti, so we went to a grocery store and browsed the aisles for a while before buying McKenzi a snack. Once in the car again we were faced with the question of where we could feed her. We didn’t see any parks, and besides it was so cold. Eventually we saw an LDS church building and we thought it would be a good idea to just pull into the parking lot and feed McKenzi in the car.
While Dustin fed his one-year-old daughter her cheese and crackers, I got a phone call from my mother. I talked to her for about twenty minutes, pacing back and forth in the parking lot thankful for the warmth my pea coat provided me with.
“Well, I’m going to let you go,” my mom said at the end of our conversation. “I don’t want to ruin your fun day.”
And that’s when we discovered the car wouldn’t start again. It drove to Manti just fine. It drove to the grocery store and to the parking lot. But now it was done. No more driving. Kaput.
After finally getting ahold of Tori, we waited. Eventually a teenage boy that I didn’t know showed up and tried to jumpstart the car. Turned out he was the brother of the groom. The attempt wasn’t successful and soon after Michelle and her sister showed up. They laughed at us as we explained how we got to be stranded in a parking lot in Manti.
We all stared at the engine, pretending like we had any idea what we were doing. We put in some coolant. That we could do. It didn’t help of course. And so pathetic we must have looked that a complete stranger pulled into the parking lot in a multi-colored car.
“Do you guys need some help?”
“Well,” said Dustin. “The car won’t start for some reason. We tried to jumpstart it but it didn’t work.”
“Yeah, we’re supposed to be at a wedding right now,” said Tori.
The man had left his car by this time and was standing with the rest of us. “I could try to completely charge the battery at my shop. Do you trust me enough to take the battery with me? You guys can head back to the wedding.”
We all looked at each other. A stranger we just met wanted to take something of ours, fix it, and bring it back while we were gone. A stranger. A man we just met. To reiterate, he was somebody we did not know from Adam.
“Sure,” said Tori.
And so the four of us—five including McKenzi—all piled into Michelle’s two-door and drove back to the wedding. Dustin eventually returned to check on the car while the rest of us enjoyed the luncheon. It turned out that a spark plug needed to be replaced, which the man bought and installed free of charge.
Manti may not be the most happening town, but it’s probably the last place you will find a kind-hearted person who is willing to help those in need without the slightest thought of what he might get in return.
To Manti's Good Samaritan, thank you.