Hal was afflicted with a slowly progressive disease of the motor nerves, affecting first his right arm and leg, and then his other side. He couldn’t walk properly but he still drove to and from work each day, with the aid of special equipment installed in his car.
It was raining when he started home that night; gusty winds and slashing rain beat down on the car as he drove slowly down one of the less-traveled roads. Suddenly the steering wheel jerked in his hands and the car swerved violently to the right. In the same instant he heard the dreaded bang of a blowout. He fought the car to a stop on the rain-slick shoulder of the road and sat there as the enormity of the situation swept over him. It was impossible for him to change that tire.
He remembered that a short distance up a little side road was a house. He started the engine and thumped slowly along, keeping well over on the shoulder until he came to the dirt road and arrived at the house. He pulled into the driveway and honked the horn.
The door opened and a little girl stood there, peering at him. He rolled down the window and called out that he had a flat tire and needed someone to change it for him because he had a crutch and couldn’t do it himself.
The little girl went into the house and a moment later came out bundled in raincoat and hat, followed by a man. Hal felt a bit sorry for the man and little girl working so hard in the storm while he sat inside the car comfortable and dry. The rain seemed to be slackening a bit, and Hal rolled down the window to watch. It seemed that they were really slow. Hal heard the clank of metal from the back of the car and the little girl said, “Here’s the jack-handle, Grandpa.” She was answered by the murmur of the man’s lower voice and the slow tilting the car as it was jacked up.
There followed a long interval of noises, jolts and low conversation from the back of the car, but finally it was done. Hal felt the car bump as the jack was removed, and he heard the slam of the trunk lid, and then they were standing at his car window.
Grandpa was an old man, stooped and frail-looking under his slicker. The little girl was about eight, with a merry face and a wide smile as she looked up.
Grandpa said, “This a bad night for car trouble, but you’re all set now.”
“Thanks,” Hal said, “how much do I owe you?”
Grandpa shook his head. “Nothing. Cynthia told me you were on crutches. Glad to be of help. I know you’d do the same for me. There’s no charge, friend.”
Hal held out a ten-dollar bill. “No! I like to pay my way.”
Grandpa made no effort to take it and the little girl stepped closer to the window and said quietly, “Grandpa can’t see it.”
A blind man and a child, fumbling, feeling with cold, wet fingers for bolts and tools in the dark, just changed a tire for him.