The Good Samaritan

I was late. I’d had “one of those days” when nothing seemed to go right and now I was on my way to Abingdon for an important appointment. The fuel guage was hovering on the empty mark. I’d seen it lower, so I decided not to detour to the petrol station for a quick pit stop, I’d press on and make up some time.

Big mistake. No sooner was I heading out of Didcot than an unfamiliar stuttering of the engine told me how terribly wrong I was. I quickly had to find somewhere to stop and turn the car round, and wasted more precious fuel waiting for gaps in the traffic, then got stuck behind some slow-coach doing 25mph in a 30mph zone. It was just the wrong speed, it meant I had to stay in third and rev the engine to keep the fuel flowing – but I was using petrol up too quickly. After several hundred yards the car was kangaroo-ing more violently as the tank drained.

Then I ran out. The Tesco filling station was in sight, but could I push it the rest of the way? Should I walk? Or phone a friend for help? I sat there for a couple of minutes and pondered my options. I tried to restart the engine a few times, maybe just one more dribble of petrol could get me there? Traffic was streaming past but fortunately I wasn’t a serious obstacle. I got out of the car just as someone walked up and asked if I needed any help, I said I was out of petrol. I was wondering to myself if he would be willing to help push the car, I didn’t know how much help some chap who presumably was walking by could be.

“I’m parked up over there,” he said, pointing a little way up the road. He’d been driving past going in the opposite direction, had noticed me stuck by the side of the road, pulled over and walked back. I was impressed. He offered to drive me there to fetch some petrol back. I gratefully accepted the offer.

Then it got worse. On the way I suddenly realised I had no cash or credit cards on me because I’d changed into a suit, leaving them in my other trousers. I told you, it was that kind of day. “Don’t worry, I’ll sub you,” he said cheerfully and without any hesitation. We’d already shaken hands and exchanged first names, but I fished around in my pockets and found a card with my name and address on it. At least he’d be able to contact me and I’d be able to pay him back. “Don’t worry about it,” he said.

We got to Tesco, they had a cheap petrol can, we filled it, he paid, we drove back to my car and filled up. The car started first time and off I went. But I’m grateful to the Good Samaritan. He was driving on the other side of the road from me, in heavy traffic, he’d had the presence of mind to notice a car stopped on the other side with the four-way flashers going, had sufficient consideration to pull over and walk back and offer to help. He drove to the petrol station, wasn’t phased by me not having any means to pay, bought a can and paid for the petrol, took me back and waited to make sure the car did indeed start.

Thank you, Steve.