Standing outside the huge garage door, Marge fumbled with her keys and then handed them over to the serviceman.
Without a word, he took them and nodded.
Buttoning her coat against a bitter late winter wind, Marge forced a grin. “Sorry, I’m so clumsy. I was out at the zoo, showing the school kids the monkeys—kind of funny how they play off each other—but dang my hands get so cold, I could probably freeze water, like one of those superhuman types on TV.”
The service guy grinned and started away. “Well, if you want to sign for the order inside, we can get things moving so you don’t have to wait too long.” He stopped by her car, frowned at the tires, circled around, and shook his head. He opened the service door and stood aside.
Nervous anxiety rippled through Marge’s body as she traipsed inside. She tossed her bulky purse onto the high counter. She glanced at the nameplate with Rick written in bold letters, next to a family photo with a pretty wife and two adorable kids.
Rick punched numbers into a calculator.
Marge swallowed back her fear. “So before you get too far, you want to tell me what I’m looking at? I mean, it’s just the oil change, right?”
Rick looked up, an appraising expression on his face. “Truth is, your two front tires are as bald as any I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised you made it through the winter on those things. Your steering wheel has more tread on it.”
Marge’s courage fell to the cement floor. “Well, I’ve been hoping they would make it to June. I only have to drive into the city twice a week, so I figured—”
The horrified look on Rick’s face forced her to grip her courage with both hands. She swallowed hard. “You’re right. It’s not safe. For me or anyone. Okay, I’ll get new ones. Can you get something a little better than what I have now? These only lasted a couple of years..”
With obvious relief, Rick nodded and started tapping the calculator again. “We’ll take you up a step and with the oil change we’re looking at…”
Marge knew he was looking at a number larger than anything she had in her checking account. Or would likely have in the near future. When he was done with the detailed costs, tax, she sucked in a fresh breath and pulled her bag forward. “Do you mind if I call my bank? I’ll transfer what I have from savings…and then” —she squinted as if the light hurt her eyes— “maybe you’d let me make monthly payments on the rest? I’m good for it. It’ll just take three…four months tops. My job…well…it’s not one of those high paying ones.”
Rick nodded. “That’s fine. I’ll have to order these now, and when they come in, we can get everything done at once. Will that work?”
Pulling her phone from her purse, Marge exhaled. “Yeah. I’ll call the bank now and pay you what I can and then—”
A man behind Marge cleared his throat.
With a frown, Rick peered over Marge’s head.
Marge started for the door. “I’ll go outside. I can’t get any reception in here anyway.” The wind had died down, and Marge soaked in the noonday sunshine. Her heart pounded as she pressed the phone to her ear. A tap on the shoulder turned her attention.
Rick stood before her, a strange expression on his face. “Hey, don’t worry about it. Just go home, and I’ll call you when I have everything set. Okay?”
A fresh blast of frigid air careened through her thin coat. She peered at the service door. “You sure?”
“Yeah. No problem. I’ve got some things to take care of right now, but I’ll call you about arranging the balance and payment.”
As Marge gave Rick her phone number, she wondered if she had accomplished anything. She marched to her car, her keys biting into her grip.
Once at home, Marge made herself a hot cup of tea and settled on the sofa with her checkbook and a pad of paper. She had to rethink her options. She sighed and took a tentative sip. Lipton’s best wasn’t nearly so good without sugar, but hey, it was better than just hot water.
Her phone rang. Dragging her purse by the long strap, she yanked it closer and sifted through myriad objects. Once she had her phone in hand, she tapped it on. “Yeah?”
Marge waited. Oh boy… Exhaustion seeped through her body.
“Sorry, I don’t mean to bother you…and I suppose I acted a little odd when you left. But, you see, the guy in line behind you told me that he overheard our conversation, and he offered to pay for your tires if we ate the cost of labor and the tax.”
Marge froze. She wondered how long she could go without breathing. When conscious thought returned, she blinked and stared at her worn black bag slumped on the floor. “Who? Did what?”
“The gentleman behind you…well, he heard about your situation, and when you went outside, he offered to pay for your tires… but he didn’t want you to know it was him. He said he doesn’t know you or anything. Just his good deed for the day sort of thing. So that’s why I told you to go home.”
A lump swelled in Marge’s throat, tears burning behind her eyes. “I never…I mean…I can’t believe…”
“We told him okay; it’s a deal. So I ordered your tires, and you can bring your car on Friday at noon. We’ll have everything done by 3:00. That’ll work for you?”
“But I’d really like to thank him…whoever he is. And you, too, of course. I can’t believe…”
“Don’t worry about it. Just bring your car on Friday, and everything will be taken care of. Free of charge. Sometimes life is good, you know.”
Marge swiped a tear from her cheek. “People are good, Rick.”
As she dropped her phone back into her purse, Marge realized that not only weren’t her hands cold, but her whole body felt warm for the first time in months.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
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