One Of The Rules Of Life I Live By, Taught To Me By A Generous Man In The Middle Of Nowhere

By A Friend • May 2, 2024

So, there was this one time in the 1990s. I was helping my brother move from a teaching job after college. This was in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was driving his little pickup truck pulling a trailer and I was driving my crappy little Ford station wagon, packed to the gills with his stuff.

It was a Sunday. I'm driving along and my car just dies. No warning, nothing. I coast to a stop on the side of a rural highway and wait for my brother to realize I wasn't behind him anymore and turn around. After about 20 minutes, he finds me, the hood up and neither one of us knows very much about cars. Soon, though a man from the house we broke down in front of comes out, takes one look at the engine and says, "Timing belt."

We inquire about getting the car towed the 30 miles to the closest large town and realize that it was going to be an expensive repair, even if the engine was OK and not ruined. This man, though, he takes on look at the situation -- sees two broke kids in their early 20s just trying to get by in life and he says, "Well, it's Sunday. Nothing's gonna be open. I tell ya what. My next-door neighbor is a mechanic. Let's push the car down to my driveway and we'll see what we can do."

So that is exactly what we do. His neighbor calls his buddy at the auto parts store (which is closed on a Sunday), who does a favor and gets the parts needed, drives them 30 miles out to the house and well sit around telling stories while the car gets fixed. This man's son, a kid of about 9 or 10, is hanging around. He is extremely bored. There were no kids nearby his age, and he's craving any kind of interaction, even with two guys in their 20s. The kid goes "Want to see my treehouse?" and points to the woods out back. My brother and I look at each other, shrug, and say, "Sure."

We end up spending two hours with this kid, helping him build his treehouse. When we are done, we go back to the house and the car is all fixed. My brother and I have maybe $60 in cash on us (combined) and try to pay the man who did the work but he refused. He said, "No, you boys were in need of help and I wanted to help. You don't need to pay me. Plus, you kept my son occupied for several hours, which I truly appreciate."

He then says, "I want you to do something for me, though. The next time you see someone in need of help and you have the means, I want you to repay this favor."

And that is one of the rules of life I live by, taught to me by a generous man in the middle of nowhere who helped me out when I was in a time of need.


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