Last Monday, when I was driving back from Brandon in the heavy rainstorm, I had a touching and reassuring experience along the road that needs telling before I forget it. I used #2 Highway to come back to Winnipeg and thought I had enough gas when I left the Wheat City. I stopped in Glenboro to let a deluge pass and meant to get some gas there, however, forgot.
Seems the bottom half of the Avenger’s tank empties quicker than the top! My gas gauge sat at empty about 40 km outside Winnipeg and though the diagnostic menu said I had 88 km to empty, I didn’t believe it because the little gas pump symbol was lit, too. I pulled into Starbuck, MB about 6:40 expecting little in the way of an open gas station. They have a Co-Op cardlock but I’m not a member.
The rain had let up and as I stood there pondering my next move, a little yellow sports car pulled into the lot. ‘Not from around here. Needs gas too,’ I thought, correctly. His car spelled out in big letters LOW FUEL. My plan was to pop over to the local hotel and see if any of the boys bending a few might have a Co-Op card and the friendlies to help out a stranger in need. The yellow sports car guy and his girlfriend, also Winnipeg-bound, were sceptical about my plan but I said, ‘Wait here, I’ll be right back.’ I drove the block and a half to the Starbuck Hotel, a fine establishment where I explained my plight to Lorelei who gladly asked the pub boys about cardlock. None of them had one.
”No problem,” she said. ”My dad has one and he lives in town.” Lorelei called her dad, explained the situation and told me to meet him at the Co-Op. His name is Len. I thanked her profusely and drove back to the pumps. As I expected, the yellow sports car was gone.
Two minutes later, Len pulls up in his half ton, all friendly and smiling. We chat about how much we don’t need the rain as he pumps $15 worth of regular into the Avenger. I give him a twenty and he reaches for change but I tell him to buy his buddies coffee in the morning on me. I thank him for coming to my rescue. He drove away in his half ton, feeling good because he helped a stranger in need. I drove away in my Avenger, feeling quickened by the benevolence of the human spirit and grateful I grew up in a small town. Thank you, Lorelei. Thank you, Len. Thank you, Starbuck.