I Love New Jersey: Cold State, Warm Hearts, Part 2

18 Feb
Orlando and Joe, my heroes, putting gas in my car on a freezing cold day.

Orlando and Joe, my heroes, putting gas in my car on a freezing cold day.

Having a Prius is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gets amazing mileage—45 miles a gallon or so. So you don’t have to think about filling up the gas tank all the time. On the other hand, a person CAN forget to put gas in the car at all. I mean, last time I looked at the gas gauge, the tank full. Now, mysteriously, a week or two later, I realized that the “empty” light was flashing. This is while I was driving on the Garden State Parkway. I wasn’t too alarmed at first, but then I realized that when I pushed down the gas pedal, the response was getting weaker and weaker. Fortunately, my exit was coming up. And when I got onto Route 3, I was able to coast down a long hill, which recharges the battery a little bit. I kept my foot off the gas pedal as I got off at the first exit, rolled along very slowly, turned right to the plaza that contains my health club and tried to turn right into the parking lot, where at least I could dig out my cell phone from somewhere and call Triple A. But just as I started turning right, while my car was at an angle, it stopped dead. It was DONE. A couple of people waited and fumed behind me, even though I put my emergency blinkers on me. Then they slowly made their way around me, giving me nasty “What’s your problem” looks. But the third car stopped and a young man and woman jumped out. “I’m sorry! I’m out of gas!” I said, for the third time.

“We know,” the young man said. “We’re going to help you.” The young woman—Jaclyn—started directing traffic, and the young man, Joe, started pushing me back—I was so rattled that Joe was actually steering the wheel WHILE pushing. And then, a security truck came up. Two nice-looking men jumped out. They helped direct the flow of traffic and push the car, too, into an empty spot in the other direction. I was looking for my damned cell phone to find Triple A’s number when Joe and Jaclyn said “We’re going to go get her some gas.” –there was a gas station almost but not quite within my ability to get there. The young couple didn’t ask me for cash (I only had credit cards anyway, but they didn’t even ASK!). Anyway, the two security guards said, “We’ll take her in the truck.” At this point, Jaclyn and Joe shook my hands while I thanked them from the bottom of my heart. Honestly, they were amazing. I wish I could do something more for them. But they wouldn’t even tell me their last names!

Orlando, the security officer, and his colleague, also named Joe, were just as nice. They took me to the gas station, helped me buy a gas can and get a few gallons of gas. They came back and put it into the car for me. Which is super nice, because a. it was freezing, and b. I wouldn’t know how to do it anyway. Then they followed me to another, better gas station where I filled my hungry Prius to the brim. Only when my tank was full did they drive off with a friendly wave. I don’t know how to express my appreciation except to say loudly right here and now to Orlando and Joe’s bosses at the Promenade Shops mall in Clifton, New Jersey, “Hey, bosses! You have some very decent guys working for you! Give Orlando and Joe a big raise!”

Writing Prompt: Did a stranger ever go out of his or her way for you?

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