Recently I was reflecting on a road trip that I took about 10 years ago with my wife Aileen to pick up a truck we purchased online. We bought the truck from an Bay seller in Texas and scheduled to pick it up over Memorial Day weekend.
It seemed like a great way to spend the weekend. We flew one way from Kansas City to Dallas where the seller picked us up at the airport and drove us to his place of business where the truck was located.
The transaction went smooth, and we proceeded to drive our used Ford F-350 flat-bed truck back to Kansas City. We were making pretty good time, and our only agenda was to get back home by Sunday evening as I had a commitment to fly to New Hampshire early Monday morning for an important business trip.
Just south of Sulphur Oklahoma I noticed the temperature gauge started to creep up to a dangerous level. We pulled over to the side of the road and popped the hood to take a look. What happened next was a defining moment for our weekend. Coolant was spewing all over the road from several areas. Did I mention this was a holiday weekend?
Thank goodness for AAA. We made a call and they dispatched a tow truck to our location. As I finished making the phone call, a flatbed tow truck with a Range Rover on the back pulled up behind us. The driver stepped out and walked up to the front of the truck. This man was tattooed from head to toe, and to be quite frank was a bit intimidating as he approached us.
He did a once over on the truck and informed that my water pump had failed. He then asked me if we had someone coming to give us a tow. I updated him on AAA and we made small talk for a few minutes. We learned that his name was Billy, he lived about 75 miles away and was on his way home. He advised us to have the truck towed to Sulphur and thought it was going to be a challenge getting someone to do the repairs before Tuesday because of the holiday.
Before he left, Billy gave me his phone number and told me to call him if we had a problem getting someone to do the repair for us. He said he would help us out if we needed it. I thanked him and he went on his way.
We ended up having the truck towed to Sulphur and dropped in front of a hotel. After checking in we hit the yellow pages and made at least a dozen calls. Just as we thought, there was no mechanic willing to cancel their holiday plans to help us out.
After exhausting nearly all possibilities and getting ready to call my employer, I decided to call Billy to see what he meant when he said “he would help us out if needed.” What happened over the next 24 hours can only be described as a blessing and a lesson.
Billy said he would be there in the morning at 9:30. He lived 50 miles north of where we were located, and drove about an hour to be there as promised. He brought his wife Sandy and his tools with him. Billy then drove me 50 miles south to the closest part store that had the water pump in stock. We drove 50 miles back to the truck and he proceeded to remove the bad pump on the one ton Ford truck.
Over the next 4 or 5 hours he worked on the truck, which was no small task working in a parking lot on a large vehicle. We talked, and his wife Sandy and Aileen visited as I handed Billy tools as needed. We learned a lot about each other over the course of that day. Billy’s father was a minister, and despite his hard and intimidating appearance, he was a kind and caring man who valued family first as well as helping others when he can.
After the truck was repaired, we shared a meal together at the hotel, and I offered to pay him for his time and expenses. He refused the money. He was genuinely there to help us get home. I felt obligated, and insisted. He had driven over 200 miles and spent an entire day helping us get back on the road. With reluctance, he accepted .
As we were getting ready to leave he let me know that if his repair failed in any way or something else went wrong, to give him a call and he would put the truck on his flatbed tow truck and drive us the rest of the way home to Kansas City. I am confident that he would have done what he said, but it wasn’t necessary. His repair work was flawless, and we made it home in time to get a good nights sleep before I had to leave in the morning.
As sure as I am typing this message, I know that God sent Billy and his wife into our life for more then one reason. Besides helping us get home to meet our commitments, he also taught us a valuable lesson about judging a book by its cover. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet Billy and his wife Sandy.