Monday, January 26, 2009

There and back again

The Saturday just past, I was given the opportunity to once again discover that kindness toward strangers still exists in our increasingly paranoid world.

I drove to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a book launch and signing. You may recall that one of my pieces of flash fiction, Hair of the Dog, is in print in The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008.

Kevin Shamel, another Pacific Northwest writer with stories in the book, rode along and we were having a swell time gabbing as we headed north.

Then, just south of the border, approaching Blaine, my car began to make strange noises. We limped into Blaine, the front of the X-Terra billowing smoke, and stopped at the Blaine Mini-Mart.

What Kevin and I know about automobile engines would only fill a very short story. Inside, I asked Judy if there was a repair shop that might be open Saturday. Minutes later, we were on the phone to Alley Auto Parts and Service, but there was no answer.

And then an angel spoke up. Her name was Marlene [thank you, Kevin], she was in the store visiting, had listened to our tale of woe and she offered to give us a lift to Alley Auto. And when I asked about the nearest car rental location, Marlene said that would be the Bellingham airport (thirty miles away).

"Don't worry," she said. "I can take you down there, too."

Long story shorter, we made it to Alley Auto, where Rich agreed to trailer the X-Terra to his shop and check it out, and then rolled down the interstate to Bellingham, where we rented a car, so that we could go on the Vancouver.

And we practically had to twist Marlene's arm to accept money for gasoline.

As if that weren't enough, Rich had the car ready to drive back to Seattle at noon on Sunday, when we rolled back through Blaine, and the repair costs were a fraction of what it would have cost me to tow the X-Terra south.

Thank you, Marlene. Thank you, Rich. Thank you, Judy. I cannot begin to tell you how much your unquestioning kindness meant to me.