Broke Down

The engine temperature gauge began to rise from its normal position. I watched it slowly climb and then quickly peg the HOT red zone. I immediately pulled over to the side of the busy road into a side street of a calmer neighborhood and shut the engine off. Steam rose from under the hood. Something bad had happened. Was it a burst hose or something worse? I put my emergency flashers on, then got out and raised the hood. Water and coolant from the radiator was on one side of the engine and chassis of the van. The steam was thick, too thick to see the source of the leak.

I returned to the driver’s seat and called my son for help. He is good with almost anything mechanical and I knew he would be a good adviser to me. We agreed that I would let it cool down while he drove to meet me and look at it.

So far this is a pretty common story for most of us that have driven older vehicles. The reason I am telling you about this break down is the surprising reaction I received from people who passed by.

Their reaction? None.

That is what surprised me. Cars, trucks, walkers, joggers of both gender and of all ages looked in my direction for a moment then went on their way. No, good neighbor questions like “Hello, are you ok?” “Do you have help coming?” “Anything I can do?” were offered.

Very surprising.

My son arrived, helped me find the broken hose, took me to the auto parts store, put the new one on and followed me home. Granted, he is my son and a gifted mechanic, so I wouldn’t expect everyone to have been able to do that for me. But, not one offer of concern from the residents of that community?

I am still very surprised as I write about it.

As I waited for my help to arrive I watched the strangers pass me. The lack of concern, or even eye contact left me sad. I wondered if I had called out for help would one of them responded? Probably, but I waited to see if anyone would check on me; a stranger without my request. Would they take the risk of having their plans for the moment delayed? I am not a scary looking guy; at least I have never been told that I am, but maybe there is a fear that runs deep now in our society that overwhelms the good neighbor in us. Or is it busyness?

Jesus told a story to the expert in the law who had asked Him, “And who is my neighbor?” The answer was the person who showed kindness and mercy to a person in need.

“Go and do likewise”, Jesus concluded.

If we are to be followers of Him, then we will do what He had commanded.

My story ended well, yet it motivated me to help others by being a good neighbor. It makes me urge you to do the same when you can.