The Kindness of Strangers

We were zooming northbound towards home, on the I-65 through Michigan, when the car’s battery light came on.

Then we noticed smoke billowing out the back.

I thought for sure the batteries were on fire, as they are located in the trunk, and that we were all going to go up in smoke and flames right there on the highway.

We immediately pulled off at the next exit, at a small town called Capac.

We thankfully made it to the parking lot of a Love’s Gas Station, complete with McDonald’s, Chester’s Chicken, and convenience store.

There was a dark, rusty brown fluid leaking from the engine and pooling beside the curb.

It looked like our car had popped a vein and was bleeding out.

We didn’t know what to do.

There we were, just after 3 o’clock in the afternoon, virtually stranded in the parking lot at a Love’s Gas Station.

It was a freezing cold, windy, grey November day.

We called our trusty friends, the CAA, or the AAA stateside.

We had just joined recently, after a flyer came in the mail a few weeks before.

We hadn’t even planned our trip yet, but thought it may be a good idea just to be a member anyway.

The CAA lady who answered the phone was very nice and sympathetic. She listened to our story, and then promised us a tow truck would be there within half an hour. She then told us of a couple of mechanic garages that were within a few miles distance. The tow truck could tow us there, and hopefuly the garages could help us fix our vehicle.

An hour and a half later, the tow truck driver arrived. He had been very busy. But that was alright. It was still daylight, barely, and it was around 4:30. Hopefully a garage would still be open.

He towed us to Capac Auto, just a few miles up the street. Past beautiful old houses, a picturesque main road. A very small town. Population just a few thousand.

We arrived at the mechanic’s shop just before 5 o’clock. Thankfully, and by nothing short of a miracle, this particular garage was open this Tuesday night until 7 o’clock.

It was run by a husband and wife team, Ron and Carol, who had bought the business many years ago from Ron’s boss who was retiring.

There were a couple of small dogs in the back office, a good sign for me as that meant they were clearly kindred animal lovers.

After the tow truck dropped off our vehicle, Ron drove it into his shop and had a look under the hood.

Well, it appears our water pump had given up the ghost.

Can’t get anywhere without a water pump, turns out.

And it was transmission fluid that was leaking out over the hot hoses in the engine, and that was what was causing the “smoke”. It was just steam.

Ron called up a nearby parts supplier, who just happened to have the right sized water pump in stock.

What are the chances?

While it was being delivered, Ron removed the old water pump and got the ol’ girl ready for her new part.

The pump arrived shortly after 6 o’clock. It was an unusual size too, so for it to be in stock was almost an incredible thing.

Ron immediately got to work installing it, and rehooking up all the hoses to ensure the new water pump would do its job.

We were out of there by the squeak of 7 o’clock.

And it was a good thing too – because the tiny town of Capac did not have a hotel, motel, AirBNB, Holiday Inn Express, bed and breakfast, or any accommodation of any sort.

The closest one, according to another customer who had walked in the door, was eight miles down the highway in Emily, Michigan.

We would have been stranded, in our car, in the tiny town of Capac, on a very cold and windy November night.

But Ron and his wife had us on our way by closing time.

We shook his hand, so thankful, happy and relieved that he had been there, been open, been willing and able to help us, that a water pump had been in stock, that he had been ready to install it, and have us on our way.

It was amazing how it all worked out. It still amazes us.

The kindness of strangers.

And we couldn’t have done anything without them.

I sent them a thank you note when we arrived home, letting them know how grateful we were for their kindness and capableness.

And so, Blanche Dubois, while you may have always depended upon the kindness of strangers, so to, did we, in Capac, Michigan, that cold and windy November night.

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