Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On the Road: The Kindness Of Strangers

I was lucky.
And, I knew better.

Dad was a Chicago cop.
Heck, I was a Law Enforcement student myself.
But it turned out alright.

Years ago, driving home from college, my car broke down on a small road across from a farmhouse. It musta have been Easter time, because I remember when the nice lady asked me inside, her girls were glued to "The Wizard of Oz."

I needed a belt, the nice farmer said, and he called ahead to the Dixie Truck Stop. I was a little scared when he asked me to hop in his truck to take me there to pick up the part. But, his wife and kids seemed nice enough. So, off we went.

Now, thinking back, I have no idea why he asked me to go with him.
It was a 5 minutes drive.
He could have just driven there himself.

Perhaps he just wanted the company.
Maybe he had had enough of the Emerald City.
Maybe he wanted to show the city girl what a truck stop - a REALLY NICE truck stop - looked like.

Maybe it was empowerment - perhaps he would do the same with his girls years from now. Show them how to take care of their own cars.
This is where fan belts come from.

Why'd he take me there? I'm not really sure.
But, the truck stop was huge.

We got the part, headed back, and he started putting it on - there on the dark road. Local law enforcement stopped by, offering his assistance. If I remember correctly, I think Mr. Farmer asked Mr. Policeman (who he knew by name) to go get the metric set out of his barn over there.

Yeah, I was driving a Datsun.

So, there were were - the 3 of us.
In the dark, on an otherwise deserted road.
And, I felt completely safe.

No, it was more than that.
I felt cared for.

In no time flat, I was off again.
Of course, the nice farmer didn't let me pay him for the part or his time.

Just wanna put in a good word for Illinois farmers.
That one was sure raised right.

As for the truck stop, well, it opened back in the 1920's as a mechanic shop offering sandwiches. By the 30's it had a restaurant with cabins out back. It remained in the same family for 4 generations - until 2003.

I haven't been there recently.
Some say it's closed. Some say it's just disgusting.
(If you think I'm mistaken, please let me know.)

Hopefully it will be purchased by someone...
who wants to bring it back to its full glory.

Rest in peace, Dixie Truck Stop.
And, thank you, Mr. Farmer. Pin It

1 comment:

Jules said...

Yeah you *were* lucky, which all by itself is a sad statement of the way things go today. Then ya' add to that the whole "clean truckstop that's likely now a dive" and ... well, times sure are different. Not better, not worse - just "different".

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