A Random Act of Kindness on the Side of the Highway

Uncategorized Aug 06, 2022

Two weeks ago, an unbelievable and scary thing happened to me while I was driving a friend from my home in Maryland to Dulles airport in the Washington D.C. area.

We were in the middle of a massive rainstorm. Driving on a busy highway with cars moving incredibly fast. With torrential rain teeming down.

Now, from my Canadian driving perspective, drivers generally (and politely of course) slow down and let you change lanes. However, D.C. drivers are notorious for “staying in their lane” and often put blinders on, pretending not to see signal indicators or speeding up to prevent nearby cars from moving over.

You’ve Got a Fast Car

In the midst of this chaos, I hit something in the road which caused an immediate warning of “Low Front Left Tire Pressure” to light up on my dashboard computer. This is an indication, of course, that I should slow down.

Within seconds, I saw another dashboard warning: “Flat Tire…” This was not good.

While the air was being sucked out of my tires, I started breathing heavily and my heart felt like it was pounding through my chest.

Right before my eyes, my passenger friend and I noticed the rubber tire fly off the metal wheel and sail off into thin air! Complete shock and terror hit us.

And then, you know the feeling of bone on bone, when you're stripped of cartilage….?! That’s how it felt with the metal rim grinding on the road underneath my car.

My friend and I were so terrified that I would have to stop immediately - right smack in the middle of the highway with other cars shooting past me. She didn’t say much during this entire incident - just sat stock-still with a fearful look on her face.

And Then My Training Took Over…

This was most definitely a near death experience. However, in the height of fear, three interesting things happened: 

1. Manage your Breath: I leveraged skills learned through Jon Kabat-Zin’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Certificate Course to avoid panicking or having a full-blown anxiety attack. These are:

  •  Breathe
  • Pause
  • Stay Present
  • Notice my bodily response to stress
  • Respond rather than react
  • Use the power of the breath to slow things down

 2.  Be Open to Signs: As I was inching my way to the right lane of the highway, hoping to pull over to the shoulder, I spotted a large sign and some pylons - it was like a mirage! - just before the exit to Dulles airport. So I pulled over in that spot and proceeded to call AAA.

3.  Look for the Good: Within seconds of me pulling over, another car pulled over in front of the sign and out came a man walking toward my car.  My initial reaction was fear - safety - but he immediately asked me if I had a spare tire and offered to install it.

I couldn’t believe my luck! I moved my car the furthest away from traffic that I could, alongside the highway and placed the pylons around him to protect him from incoming traffic.

And the spare tire was installed by this lovely Good Samaritan - within minutes!

I offered him cash, which he refused to accept, saying “It’s for you.” This man risked his life to help us. He was like a messenger from God.

I was so touched by his generosity, his kindness, this random act of kindness. If you’re reading this, sir, please know that you’ve restored my faith in humanity.

How Do We Change the World?

Morgan Freeman once said, “How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.” And, I truly believe this. In fact, this incident illustrates how I was the lucky recipient of this very idea!

So, here’s my request for you: Pay it forward with a random act of kindness this week to help out someone in need, make someone’s day, warm someone’s heart. If you like, feel free to write to me and let me know what you did and how it worked out.

May your day be full of kind surprises.

Be well,

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