How a chance meeting left an impact

When Erik got out of the hospital, he walked down the road from the Sanford medical facility, over a busy bridge and across the street, only to see me. I probably looked sweaty and scared, dressed in my all-black work uniform. He could definitely infer that I was stuck, holding up traffic on the off-ramp right across the way from a Simonson gas station.

My gas gauge had not communicated to me the actual amount of gas I had left before I went to work. It was broken, and I was broke, so I trusted it when it ticked up to a quarter tank as I started my car. Only when I got onto the highway did I realize the little needle on my dash was a liar with bad intentions.

My early model, silver, house-of-a-car Ford Explorer shuttered and then started up again. This never happened on a full tank, so my heart shuttered as well. I told myself to breath. I knew there was a gas station right up ahead. I could see it come into view, and I relaxed a little. The only money I had on me was $10 in tips split into two fives, but that was enough to get me home. 

It was around 4 p.m. when I got on the off-ramp. Cars and semi-trucks were passing in and out of the intersection that blocked me from my goal. My Ford behemoth landed on the second left-turn lane and shuttered and then shuttered again. Then the RPM gauge dropped to nothing, and that needle never lies. The car was out of gas, and there was a line in back of me. The fear set in when I realized just how unfortunate the situation was. 

Out of the madness, heat, swearing and honking came a man carrying a plastic bag. He was tall and lanky. His only muscle definition came from how skinny he was. Tattoos layered his forearm, and a cross dangled onto his dark shirt. 

I was worried at first. The loud semi-trucks and mini-vans that blew past on both sides made me feel the trueness of my vulnerability. 

“You OK?” the man asked.

I told him my situation, and he told me his name, Erik. I asked Erik if he could possibly go and get a gas canister and bring it back. Erik obliged, even saying that he would leave his wallet and bag with me. The bag said Sanford, the local hospital, and Erik told me the reason why.

Erik had been robbed. They stole his car and stabbed him. Erik pointed to his sweaty arms that had scars from the blade. I was becoming more aware of the kind of person Erik was. Most people don’t run from the safety of the curb to save some dumb kid, but Erik seemed more concerned with helping me than his own bodily safety. I was still scared and confused though, so I did what kids from the suburbs do when they can’t solve their own problem — I called the police.

Erik pondered what to do while I called the not-so-helpful 911 operators, who didn’t seem to care that I was scared and stupid at the worst possible place. Erik new what to do though.

“Put it in neutral!” Erik yelled, looking back for a good opportunity from in front of my car. He pushed my car off to the side of the road as I steered. It usually takes two of my friends to push my car anywhere. 

Erik said I should be fine there. I pulled out my wallet, still in awe at what kind of person I had come across. I didn’t know if it would seem like charity, but I needed to thank him in some way. I pulled out my $10 and gave it to Erik.

Erik cried. I still have no idea how I didn’t cry with him. He thanked me and grabbed my hand. His fist clenched as he walked away sobbing with joy. His knees buckled under the weight of what had just happened. The $10 was nothing to me. What he did was selfless; my payment wasn’t even generous.

Hairs on my arm raised as I became engulfed in chills. Erik had walked out of the hospital, down the street, past the gas station and over the busy overpass. His body scarred and his will tested, he stopped going wherever he was going and helped me selflessly. 

He said God bless through tears of graciousness before he left, and I felt his soul pour through me like a broken wave. And I was blessed for a moment. Erik looked broken, he might have even been broken, but from his action, he showed his soul was nothing to mess with.

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