Susan Frankel wasn’t having a good day. Even though her gas tank said that she had plenty of gas to make it home, her car just stopped. She was on an incline, and the gas in her tank wasn’t able to get to the engine to keep the car running. She put her hazard lights on and called triple A as angry drivers swerved around her and honked as if she could have done anything about it. She was nervous about being rear-ended, but AAA told her that she had been placed on a “priority” list because the area was listed in their system as “dangerous.” She checked her mobile map app and saw that she was causing a huge traffic jam and felt even worse.
Just as I hung up, a young man knocked on my passenger window, startling me. I’ve seen enough Law & Order — I was immediately a little suspicious, so I rolled the window down a few inches.
‘Do you need some help?’ he said earnestly.
‘Thanks, no, AAA is on the way,’ I replied.
‘What’s wrong with the car?’
I told him it just stopped as if it was out of gas, but the gas gauge didn’t say empty. I turned the key for him and he agreed it didn’t sound like the battery. He said he’d be right back, and took off running up the street, toward the gas station that was about ⅔ of a mile up the street.
A few minutes later, he came running back down the street with a small gas can in his hand. I rolled the window down about half way. He walked around my car, onto the side where angry commuters were rushing around us, and poured a gallon of gas into my car.
He came back around to the passenger side. My side window was now all the way down. The car almost started, but we were on an incline so it wasn’t enough. He dropped his jacket on my passenger seat and took off again for the gas station.
After ten minutes or so, he came running back. He put another gallon of gas in my car and asked if I’d take him back to the gas station. Turns out he and his friend had driven by me, seen me stopped, and his friend was waiting at the gas station while he helped me, a stranger.
He got in the car and we both crossed our fingers as I turned the key. Nooooo! We heard that clicking sound that means the battery is dead. Turns out that leaving the key in the ignition with the hazards going for two hours or so isn’t healthy for the battery.
At that point, he called his friend at the gas station who headed down the street to help us. Another guy who lived nearby came over to help, too. These three men in their 20s pushed my car uphill all the way to the gas station, and it was no easy task. They were really working, switching from face forward pushing to backwards, using their legs for leverage, and back again. All the way to the gas station.
At the gas station, still panting, the first guy who stopped to help went looking for jumper cables. The guy from the neighborhood left after receiving my profuse thanks. Then AAA finally arrived.
I tried to give the two good samaritans money offered to buy them dinner with $40 in my hand, which they politely refused, saying they didn’t want a reward. The first young man wouldn’t even take money for the gas he put in my car. I was pretty floored.
‘Do you just go around saving damsels in distress?’ I joked. Ok, halfway joked. I actually had been in distress, but I think my damsel days are long gone. But the answer was sincere.
‘No, we’re Muslim, and it’s our duty to help.’
We shook hands, then hugged, then introduced ourselves, then said goodbye.”
Her story has been shared thousands of times by people impressed and even shocked by her story. No one expected to read the last line, and when they did, they realized how turned around society is, commenting that they were taken by surprise to read it. The story is inspiring people to be more like the helpful friends and less like the angry, honking drivers who were speeding around the “damsel in distress,” and most people admitted that they would have kept driving, and would probably have been angry as well if they were stuck in traffic.
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