Regular readers of my column know this is the time of year I break from addressing public policy issues and focus on positive aspects of life in accordance with the season. I am going to tell you a story about something I was involved in a few months back that will hopefully give you a warm feeling and some positive thoughts about how to guide your own actions.
I drive home most of the time on the same route. I turn off a main street onto a winding street that comes to a stop sign. At the stop sign, I turn left, but always look right to a street that is heading up a hill. For the first time, I can remember there was a car parked there which seemed quite out of place as there are no homes on that part of the street.
I thought the car was for someone visiting the houses to the left and I moved on. The next day the car was there and then the next day. I thought I might get involved, but nobody likes a buttinski, so I left it at that. Then on a Saturday afternoon, I decided to look because something appeared clearly wrong.
I drove around the car noting the make and model and the current condition. I wrote down the license plate and saw that the license plate frame was from a used car lot which included the phone number.
I called the lot and spoke to the general manager. I told him there might be a car stolen from his lot parked near my home. I gave him the information about the vehicle, and he went and checked his records. When he returned, he stated the car had been sold. He asked if it was alright to have the owner call me directly. I said absolutely.
Ten minutes later I received a call from Michael. After identifying ourselves he asked me to describe the car. Michael was a mix of emotions vacillating between disbelief and euphoria. He asked a couple more questions and smiled broadly through the phone and stated “Yep, that is my car.” Michael told me his car had been missing for a month. While he kept holding out hope, his girlfriend had urged him to give up the ghost and get some new wheels. He felt almost vindicated that his car was within reach of being returned to him.
Michael lives nearby so I told him to just come to my house and we would go over to the vehicle. It was a relief that the vehicle could be identified this way. A different scenario might have involved going to a police station, filing a report, waiting, and waiting to find out if the car was ever returned to the rightful owner — Michael.
Michael arrived at my house, and I got in his car and suggested the following: If the car is his and drivable, he will take the car to his home and I will follow him to his place, drop off a car and he could drive me back to my home. He was delighted with that as he thought he would have to get a buddy over to do all this. I said it was no big deal. He lives less than ten minutes away. Michael was just shocked at this entire scenario and said God was really looking down on him today.
We drove the winding roads to where the vehicle was located. He got out of the car and used his spare remote key to open it. The lights went on which was an excellent sign since the battery could have been dead from sitting unused for an extended period. He walked around the car and checked inside. He came back to the car I was in and happily told me the car was undamaged and the only thing missing was a CD case. He stood there for a moment in stunned euphoria.
We dropped off his recovered car and he jumped in the one I was driving. When I switched to the passenger seat, I called my brother who is quite knowledgeable about cars. I suggested that Michael might want to run the engine for 45 minutes to recharge the battery. My brother said Michael just needed to drive the car around for 20 minutes which I shared with Michael. That was now his plan directly after dropping me off.
When we started up the hill back to my house I turned to Michael and said, “Don’t even think of offering me a reward of any kind.” He said his girlfriend would want to send me a gift card. My response was “thank you, but no thank you – I am not interested in anything other than helping.”
We got out of the car, and I handed him a business card. I told him he may need to get ahold of me because he filed a police report and had to let them know the vehicle was recovered. Then I said, “Have a great day.” I thought about that and corrected myself. “That was silly; you are already having a great day.” Michael stood there staring at me with a smile that could light a Broadway marquee.
This entire episode took about two hours. Anyone who is victimized as Michael was in this case with his stolen car might just have a bit of faith restored with an act such as this.
While it’s said the ultimate act of giving is to do so anonymously, I share this story with you to perhaps demonstrate it often takes little effort to help another person. We can all be hopeful Michael’s Christmas is a bit better for the little episode we shared.
It’s so important to make someone happy
Make just one, someone happy
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