One evening, this young man was driving home on a two-lane country road. In this small midwestern town, work was almost as slow as his beat-up Pontiac, but he never gave up looking. Since the plant closed, he was unemployed. With winter approaching, he was feeling the chill.
The journey had been long and lonely. Most people weren’t on it unless they were departing. Most of his friends had already left. Despite the fact that they had families to feed and goals to achieve, he stayed on. After all, this is where his parents were buried. He was a native of this country. He could walk along this road blind and tell you what was on either side, which was useful since his headlights were out.
The sky was getting darker, and light snow flurries were falling. He should get to work. He narrowly missed seeing the elderly woman stuck on the side of the road. Even in the pale light of day, he could see she needed help. So he got out of his car and parked in front of her Mercedes. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he reached her.
Despite his smile, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t appear to be in danger. He looked hungry and destitute. Standing outside in the cold, he could see she was afraid. Her feelings were clear to him. He felt a shiver that only terror can induce. “I’m here to help you, Ma’am,” he said. Couldn’t you just wait in the car, where it’s nice and warm? My name is Bryan.
She only had a flat tire, but that was enough for an elderly lady. As he searched for a place to place the jack, Bryan slid under the car, skinning his knuckles a few times. The tire was soon replaced. His hands hurt, however, since he had to get dirty. As he tightened the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and started talking to him. She said that she was visiting from St. Louis and that she was simply passing through.
She couldn’t thank him enough for his assistance. Bryan simply smiled as he closed her trunk. “How much do you owe me?” she asked. Any amount would have been fine with her. She had already imagined the horrors that would have ensued if he hadn’t stopped.
Money was never an issue for Bryan. For him, this was not a job. God knows how many people have helped him in the past. He had always acted in that manner, and it had never occurred to him to act otherwise. After Bryan told her she could help someone in need the next time she saw someone in need, he added, “…and think of me.” He sat and waited for her to start her car before driving off.
Even though it had been a cold and dreary day, he felt fine as he drove home, disappearing into the twilight.
A few kilometers down the road, she came across a modest bistro. Before making the final leg of her journey home, she stopped for a bite to eat and to warm up. The restaurant looked run-down. Outside were two vintage gas pumps. She didn’t know what to expect. Cash registers were like out-of-work actors’ phones: they didn’t ring very often.
As she wiped her damp hair with the towel, her waitress approached her. Despite being on her feet all day, she had a wonderful smile on her face.
The lady knew that the waitress was about eight months pregnant, but she maintained her cheerful demeanor despite the strain and aches. She was puzzled as to how someone with so little could be so generous.
When her dinner was over, the lady went out the door, and the waitress went to get change for a hundred dollar bill. When the waitress returned, the lady had left. She was puzzled as to where the lady was before she discovered four $100 bills scribbled on the napkin. As she read what the lady had written, her eyes welled up with tears.
“You don’t owe me anything; I’ve been there myself,” it said. A previous assistance was provided to me in the same way that I am providing assistance to you. If you truly want to repay me, follow these instructions: “Don’t let this chain of love end with you.”
The waitress persevered despite tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve. When she got home from work and went to bed that night, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. Was the lady able to understand how much it was required of her and her husband? It would be difficult, especially since the baby was due next month.
While he was sleeping next to her, she gave him a delicate kiss and said softly, “Everything’s going to be alright, Bryan. I love you.”