This morning I loaded all three of my little ones into our rarely driven minivan for a trip into the city. We scarcely make trips into London, except when necessity requires it. I have an upcoming date with a collective kitchen, which is a small group of homesteading women who get together to share in creating food, remedies, home crafts, and whatever else seems useful. We’re meeting on Sunday, and I needed to pick up something for our get together. Unfortuantley I did not find what I was looking for, but in the spirit of ‘make no waste’ while in the city, I decided we had enough time to head to the thrift store on the other side of town. It’s my favourite thrift store, Talize. I had just been there on Monday for their half price sale, which I always make an effort to attend since this is one of the main ways we clothe our family and home. I had to rush that day, since I had an appointment to make, so I ended up buying several sweaters for Rob and multiple pairs of jeans for myself without trying them on. One of the reasons I love Talize is that they take returns for a week, which allows me to shop by myself and take things home for the family to try on.
We went into the store, returned our unwanted items, browsed around the toy aisle for a while, while my children played nicely with items that weren’t theirs; carefully putting things back on the shelf when they were finished with them. The baby was getting fussy, so we headed for the exit. I got the boys buckled into their carseats and turned on some music for entertainment while I fed the baby. She was nearly done when the music suddenly cut out. The boys asked why it stopped. I postulated that perhaps our new van had a feature to protect the battery, should the key be left in the ‘accessory’ position for too long. I tried turning the key from the passenger seat where I was still nursing. The engine did not turn over. I put the baby in her car seat, and went around to the driver side. I tried again, this time using the gas pedal as incentive. Nothing.
At this point, I realized we were in a bit of trouble. I didn’t have my ’emergency cell phone’ with me (irony or symbology?). We have not got roadside assistance, nor did I even have jumper cables on board. So here I was stuck in a parking lot with 3 tired children, and 2 hungry boys, as it was just about noon. I explained what was going on to everyone in the car, then headed out into the parking lot to try and find some caring soul to help. I asked several people as they approached their cars…perhaps 5 or 6. It seems that not many people carry jumper cables with them. Then there were no people left to ask. I decided to take the two garbage bags of donations I had brought with me to the drop off window, and would ask the employee if they had any cables. No such luck. Next door to the thrift store, there was a middle eastern food place. I stepped inside the door, and inquired to all who would listen about whether there was anyone who may be able to help me. A man spoke up and said he had cables and could help me out. His family was just finishing their meal. He asked me which car was mine and told me he would meet me outside.
I went back to the car and explained what would happen next to the children. When I returned to the car, no one was crying, no one was complaining. The man brought his family over to ours in their car. He hooked up the cables like a pro (despite my protests about the order of cable attachment based on my brief reading of the car manual). He had it going in a few minutes. I offered him an unused gift card from my wallet for a local food place, which he protested at first, but accepted in the end. I was so very grateful for that man and his understanding family. What would I have done without them?
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
~Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
So many things about this morning’s adventure were right. The man who took time from his family and life to help me. The patience, understanding and compassion of my children. The confidence I had that I could find a solution. The calmness with which I was able to approach the situation. The gratitude my eldest son expressed to me on the way home, “Thank you Mommy, for asking so many people for help. You were able to get our car fixed. I love you.”