I was on the freeway when the truck in front of me began to swerve. I slowed and drew to the left to avoid a collision. The truck spun, fishtailing first right, then left and back to the right where it slid sideways, missing the guardrail. In slow motion it rolled, tumbling off the steep cliff, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust.
I pulled over and stopped. Looking at my daughter-in-law in shock, I hopped out, hollering, “Hit the hazards and call 911!” I waited to cross the street as several cars whizzed by, oblivious to the horrifying scene below. The dust was already settling as I gazed over the spot where the truck had disappeared. To my surprise there was nothing unusual—no evidence of what I knew had just happened. Perplexed, I climbed down a little further, searching the distance. Then I saw it. Scattered over a large boulder field was a ladder, multiple power tools, cords, nails and papers. A wheel, a tire, water bottles, a backpack. About 300 feet down I spotted the remains of what used to be a truck. Having rolled and then flipped end to end several times over the boulders, It rested sideways against a tree in the ravine.
I made my way down as quickly as I could and found a man that had been thrown from the vehicle. He was disoriented with an obvious head injury, a broken wrist, various cuts and bruises, and probable internal injuries. Another man was pinned inside the wreckage. At first, I thought he was dead until he began to moan.
Now as passing cars saw our hazard lights and my daughter-in-law on the side of the road with her cell phone, they began to stop. Before long there were several people on the scene to assist. A helicopter was summoned and landed in the road, shutting down the freeway while professional responders used the jaws of life to cut the man free.
My daughter-in-law and I were the only witnesses. Had we not stopped, it’s unlikely anyone would have found the wreckage for a very long time. Of the many who helped that day, no one expected to be thanked. In fact, nobody will ever know their names or anything more about what they did to help these strangers.
Yesterday was Black Friday, or as I like to refer to it, Black-hearted Friday. A day for pushing, shoving, grabbing and in general, committing an assortment of randomly selfish acts. This disturbing behavior is rampant in stores, lines, parking lots and traffic. So, I was quite surprised when I pulled up to the pay-window at In-and-Out Burger.
“It’s your lucky day,” the cashier greeted us warmly, “The people in the car ahead of you paid for your meal!”
This random act caught me off-guard and all I could do was wave a thanks to the red car ahead, who was expecting nothing in return. People I will never see again. A moment too late I wondered why I didn’t think to pay for the car behind me in turn? I could have easily passed on that good will and who knows where it would have ended?
It’s easy to show kindness when it’s a life and death situation, but much harder to do so in small actions every day. Unlike helping someone survive a car accident, it takes a lot of practice to spot small circumstances that can truly make a difference in someone’s life.
Since this is the season of Good Will Towards All Men, I’m going to train harder—prepare better to see opportunities to perform random acts of kindness more often. Even on Black-hearted Friday.