After picking up my daughter from Rosa Park Middle School for a midday doctor's appointment, I turned onto Olney Mill Road ... and heard a loud screeching sound and smelled something burning.
Frustrated drivers behind me honked, like a tailgating red sports car that gunned loudly past. Slowly pulling to the side, I climbed out of the car and knelt down to peek underneath – but saw nothing dangling or dragging. My daughter also looked but saw nothing.
My mind raced with questions: 1) What caused the screeching and acrid smell? 2) Should I cancel the doctor's appointment and would I have to pay a cancellation fee? 3) When would I reschedule the appointment (which meant rejuggling my work schedule and interrupting her classes again)? 4) Should my daughter walk back to school while I stay with the car and decide what to do? 5) Should I just walk home? 6) How was I going to drive to errands and kids' activities later in the day?
"Excuse me, do you need any help?"
I stood up to see a young brunette lady who had parked her white car in front of mine. I quickly mumbled my jumbled thoughts and she nodded sympathetically, suggesting maybe I drive the short distance to Fletcher's. Embarrassed to take up her time, especially in my harried (and cursing) state, I thanked her and said I might try that.
"Well, if you need anything," she offered as she climbed back into her car, "please let me know."
I tried my car again, this time rolling a few feet in reverse and then forward -- without any screeching! Hey, I thought cautiously, maybe we can make it to the doctor's office on time. We slowly drove away, without any noise or smell.
Earlier that week, Olney had been pretty windy and maybe a blown-down stick was caught in the wheel well. Perhaps driving in reverse dislodged it. In any case, I was touched by this total stranger who stopped in the middle of a weekday, probably busy and on her way to work, home or on an errand. Her random act of kindness was not actually fixing my car, but offering help that made me calm down and stop cursing my bad luck.
To the young brunette lady with a white car who stopped to check on me and my daughter on Olney Mill Road on Thursday, June 9 at 12:55pm – thank you!