A Hearty Thanks for the Kindness of Strangers, AAA and most especially Highlands’ Tire & Service Centers – in Pennsylvania ~
8 hours from home this past Saturday morning, on a highway 10 miles from our granddaughter’s summer ballet camp where Grandpa and I were headed to take her to a local place for a nice breakfast and then sit in on her dance class all before 10:30 am, and then spend the day visiting with our ballerina, we heard the not-so-often but all-too-recognizable tat-that-tat-that-tat-that-tat sound of a flat tire.
It can’t be.
But it was.
A flat tire as we drove to the nearest exit, a full 3/4 mile away.
I immediately texted our granddaughter to let her know the situation and the possibility that we’d be too late for breakfast, but praying to be on time for her dance class.
We called AAA.
Barry and I have been AAA members forever and although we rarely need roadside service, AAA is that roadside hug of familiarity that means so much in an emergency situation. The service operator said that we’d have help within 30 minutes.
As we began to clean out the back of my Honda SUV to access the spare tire, we had the first of four total strangers stop to ask if we needed help on this Pennsylvania highway exit on a summer Saturday morning. This first man was young, as in-his-20’s young, and absolutely available to help a couple of senior citizen strangers. Barry and I told him that we are expecting AAA within a half hour and thanked him heartily for offering his help.
This young man’s kindness immediately changed the focus of our morning from UUUUHHHHHH to a feeling of great confidence that we would make our granddaughter’s dance class.
Soon another man stopped, an older man willing to help in any way he could, saying, “We help in Pennsylvania!” We again explained that AAA was expected, now within 20 or-so minutes. We thanked him heartily.
Stranger #3 arrived on the scene shortly after. He was young and enthusiastic to help, noting that he saw our out-of-state license plate. Again, we explained that AAA should be arriving soon, and thanked him for his offer to help.
In the meantime, Barry had spoken on the phone with our son Adam, the Dad to our granddaughter. Knowing that we would be driving 8 or-so hours back to Rhode Island later that day, Adam called a local Pennsylvania tire dealer to see if he could secure a new tire for my car model and have it professionally “installed.”
We were waiting to hear from Adam and texting our granddaughter with updates as another man pulled to a stop to help. This guy drove a pristine vintage Lincoln Town Car that, although I’m not a vintage car aficionado nor someone who ever admired vintage cars, I couldn’t help but step over to that beauty and say, “Wow!”
And I mean, “WOW!”
The driver of this car, a guy about our age, asked where we were going and wouldn’t take we are waiting for AAA for an answer. He said, instead, “Let’s get a little jump on AAA to get you on the road to see your granddaughter!”
He helped Barry jack up our car, take off the lug nuts (is that what they are called?) and had our rescue on the road, so to speak, as the AAA guy drove up (and yes, within 30 minutes, probably closer to 25).
Barry was still communicating with Adam, who had found a tire & service center within a few miles that DID have a tire for us and was willing to hold it until we got there. The serviceman, Kevin, was like an angel in the middle of all that asphalt and highway of Pennsylvania.
Our Town Car stranger, the AAA serviceman and Barry had our tire changed quickly. We signed the paperwork, shook hands (as Barry handed the Town Car stranger $$$$ for breakfast and insisted he take it), smiled at the great kindness of these folks and we took off toward HIGHLANDS’ Tire & Service Centers in Carisle…
Here, again, we were treated with great Pennsylvania professionalism and kindness, but the fact that we were hurrying to see our granddaughter dance was of paramount importance to Kevin and his amazing staff. Barry and I certainly understand this award…
As Highlands’ took our car into the service area to take care of our new tire, Barry and I hopped into an Uber to take the 3-mile ride to see Maddie dance. We settled up with Kevin and knew that our car was in THE BEST hands ever.
We made it! Well, we missed breakfast and were a half hour late for the class, but we made the class for a full hour!
WE MADE IT!
And beyond that, we had the most wonderful afternoon with our beautiful ballerina at lunch, shopping incredibly fun stores and being first-time Uber users!
At the end of our visit, Barry and I headed back to Highlands’ where we retrieved our car and drove the highways back to Rhode Island.
But what we took from our experience in Pennsylvania was not only the most wonderful time with our granddaughter, but the great humanity of people who truly care for strangers in need.
And a new admiration for vintage cars!