It’s About What’s Under the Hood

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Looking at the clock on the radio, I knew I didn’t have time to go back home. It was already 6:32 and Bible study started at 7:00. I had forgotten my phone again. It’s lying by my bed on the nightstand, but nobody will call me anyway. Glenn is fast asleep somewhere in Ukraine where it’s 2 am (2:32 to be precise) and everybody else I know will be at church. No worries.

Driving through Huntsville in a pelting and blinding rain, I started to wonder if everybody would be there tonight. But I was wrong to wonder. Encouraged by a great crowd with several visitors, a dynamic lesson by Todd Clippard, watching a four-year old in the foyer say all the books of both Testaments, and then getting a couple of contacts while attending a short visitation meeting, I was ready to go home and accomplish a few housekeeping chores before bedtime.

But I have to pass Sonic on my way home. Now that’s a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the Route 44 diet Dr. Pepper. The curse is the hamburger you really want to go with it. I’d skipped supper, was hungry and ordered both (but just the 8 point burger, no mayo and definitely no fries or onion rings).

I paid with my credit card, turned the radio down and said a prayer while waiting for my order. I thanked God for the food that was coming. Then I turned the radio back on. I thought about calling my kids, but, oh yeah…no phone.

Listening to oldies, savoring every one of those eight points and thinking about what a good day it had been and what an even better day it would be tomorrow, because that’s the day Glenn gets back to the US, I thought, “Life is good,” as Glenn often quips.

Then the abrupt pop came from the radio. The radio stopped playing, the fan stopped blowing, the window would not roll up or down. When I turned the key, there was nothing but a repetitive clicking sound. I started to think about my options. They were limited. I might walk home but it’s much too far and it’s raining. I might call someone… if I had a phone. I might ask someone in a car next to me to think really hard and see if he has any ideas, but he does not look very nice. I might call a cab… if I had a phone. I might go over to the highway and hope somebody nice passes by…somebody from church…but they will not pass by because they’d already left the building before I did. I might try to go up to that huge emergency vehicle that’s taking up three parking places over there and ask the EMS people if they have any ideas. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. This is an Emergency and they could do me a service. The only part of EMS that this is not is the M for “medical.” I bet they will help me. I’m doing it. I’m walking over there and see if they will look down and see me. I am not tall enough to knock on their window. And, alas…they are driving away. I am stepping in puddles to get to them and they are driving away and they are splashing me.

Getting back in my car, I decided to rummage through my purse. Maybe I did bring that phone. I didn’t. Let me look around this lot again. Maybe someone is a nice person…No, I don’t think so. This is Northwest Huntsville. In fact, I am scared. Why do I even come to this scary place??!!

But I will get “scareder” and “scareder” if I keep procrastinating and not thinking of anything to do. Everyone knows a scary place is twice as scary when it gets past nine or ten at night. I’ll just have to go up to the door where it says “Employees Only” and hope there is an employee who looks nice and will have pity on me and let me come in and use their phone. I hope they have a phone book, too. But no employees look nice either. They look tattoo-ey and smoky and I think all of them cuss. They probably will want to cuss at me when they know that my car is likely going to spend the rest of the night here in one of only a few places where they don’t have to walk in this rain to deliver the order.

But one of the not-so-nice looking employees came to the door and said, “Can I help you?” She called to her friend who had a cell phone. She immediately handed it to me. Another employee scrambled for the phone book. The two of them walked out and looked at my car. One looked under the hood. One had jumper cables. But by now the car would not even go into neutral so we could push it away from the Sonic order box sign thingies, so we could get a car close enough to connect the cables. Then a third employee walked over. He was the scariest because he was the biggest. He started asking me questions like “What does your husband do?” and “Why is he out of the country?” I wondered just why this not-so-nice-looking man wanted to know these things. He wanted to know what church he preaches for and where is this church? I sort of wanted to stop telling this man about my husband being out of the country and I sort of wanted to say “ I don’t really know the answer to this question. Could I phone a friend? With your phone??” But then he said, “I am a member of the church of Christ, too. I’m just in Huntsville because I go to UAH. I am a member of the church in Birmingham.”

It is just so strange. Suddenly this big six foot-four man did not look “not-so-nice.” As he walked over to his car to get some longer jumper cables he looked more like “very nice.” He helped the girl (whose car was not close enough because of these ordering boxes) to jump the curb from the other side and pull up into the middle of the sidewalk, so she could jump me off. He connected the two batteries. He said, “Go try it now.” I started the car and told them both that I love them! I do love them. I am, because of their kindness, sitting in my warm dry bedroom thinking.

Sometimes, when I was a child, after I had inflicted some injustice or said some harsh word, my mother used to tell me to just go to my room and “think about it.” I really hated when she told me to go and think about something.” I had really rather have had a thrashing than to have to go and “think about something.” So I would decide that I would go to my room, but I would not think about it. The ironic trouble is… the more you decide not to think about it, the more you think about it. And I guess you learn a thing or two when you think about it. I’m sure my mother knew all of this to be the case.

So, tonight, I am thinking about it. Here are some lessons learned as I think about it:

1. Do not wait till the last minute to leave for church. Not a good habit.
2. Keep up with your cell phone. If I’ve heard Glenn say it once I have heard him say it a thousand times: “I do not know why I even pay for that phone. It is never turned on and if it is turned on, it is not with you.”
3. Do not be out in the open in West Huntsville late at night when your husband is out of the country.
4. Memorize some local friends’ phone numbers or at least write them down and put them in your car, in case you fail at #2.
5. Carry some jumper cables with you.
6. Do not park so close to the order box thing that you cannot fit between it and your car. If you have to go back and forth, and back and forth from the driver’s seat to the engine, you will get very wet, especially when you have to walk all the way around a huge banner advertising happy hour with half- price drinks and slushes; a banner that is tied to the two posts and blocks the entire sidewalk… every single time you make this trek from driver’s seat to engine. Makes you feel like maybe if you were going to walk this much and get this wet, you should at least be going toward home.
7. Always carry enough money with you so that you can give a little to someone who has goodness in his/her heart. I had exactly thirteen dollars to my name. I was glad I had at least paid for my burger with my credit card or it would have been even less. I had even given all my pocket change to the other girl as a tip when she brought my food. I gave my thirteen dollars to one of the employees and told her I wish it could have been more. I do.

But the most important lesson is this: Cindy Colley, please resolve to stop summing people up based on appearances, situations of employment, areas of town, or any other outside indicators. Guess what? All outside indicators would have shouted that my vehicle was by far the most dependable of any of the cars of any of the employees who helped make mine run. It was nicer, newer, more expensive when purchased and cleaner. But none of that mattered tonight. What mattered was what was occurring under the hood. People are that way. The people at Sonic were that way tonight. See, these people whom I was misjudging, based on appearances, as those who could probably care less about my plight, were, in fact, those who knew what to do and didn’t think twice about whether or not they were doing it. They didn’t ask me if I would like for them to come out in the rain and see if they could help. They just got about the business. They didn’t look like the most dependable people to me. But, under the hood, they had what was needed and they freely gave it. One of these people was my brother in Christ. I am going back to Sonic in the next couple of days and carry him some homemade bread and some good spiritual books. He looks like the kind of guy who would really enjoy reading them!

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

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