Sunday, November 19, 2006


An Angel in Disguise

It was the Friday before Thanksgiving and you could just feel all of us rev’ing up for The Holidays. The panic of The Season had officially begun.

I was leaving my office a full ten minutes late for a meeting in Eau Claire. I had dawdled, I call it. Walked over to the attorney’s office to pick up some papers. Walked out to the mailbox to pick up the mail for the office. And then finally wished everyone a good weekend and departed. Ten minutes late.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, my dear friend, the “low fuel” light, came on. I checked the console and learned I had a computer calculated “61 MILES TO EMPTY”. Safe. Eau Claire was less than 30 miles away and so off I went. I could get fuel in Eau Claire after the meeting. That was my plan.

On to the freeway. Traffic was heavy and the cars were full of families. Already, the traveling for the family get togethers has begun. I am a tad bit jealous, but I get back to reality and focus on making some time and getting to my meeting in Eau Claire.

I pressed my foot on to the accelerator and instead of going faster, I felt the truck lose its energy. The diesel began to knock a bit. So, I checked the console once again to see “31 MILES TO EMPTY” and knew I was still carrying some fuel. Must have been some junk in the line. The power of the engine came back and so I continued. Past the exits with diesel fuel available. Carrying out my plan.

One mile later and I’m parked on the side of the road with my flashers on. Out of fuel. No one to blame but myself. No need sitting here. It could be hours before a State Trooper goes by and I was less than a mile from the next exit. Better to get out and start walking than just sitting here waiting for a remedy to come to me. Help comes to those that help themselves, my Mom said.

I started walking, glad that it was in the 30’s today. It could be worse, I told myself. Much worse. I was praying as those big semis flew past me. No blowouts, please. That flying rubber can be lethal. With no hat for my head and only my dress gloves, I was very glad the weather was cooperating, at least.

Not 5 minutes later, I hear tires on gravel behind me. And the rattle of a diesel. I turn to see the cleanest, biggest, blackest Dodge Ram pickup I have ever seen coming up behind me. Behind the wheel is a bear of a man, motioning me to come to him.

I go to his passenger door and he offers me a ride. I explain – weakly – the low fuel light and the console reading but then say something about it knocking and I knew I was out of fuel. The driver stops his truck and looks right at me. “You have a diesel?” he asked. “Yup”, I said.

In reverse we go! No questions or hesitations. Just backing up to my truck.

You see, Ted Fletcher is an over-the-road hauler of recreational trailers. His Dodge Ram is 7 months old and has over 100,000 miles on it. And it’s a diesel. And Ted carries spare diesel fuel with him.

“When you go through South Dakota, you never know if your fuel will last you to the next stop. I go from Flying J to Flying J, and sometimes I wouldn’t make it. All depends upon the wind.” Ted explained, as he poured his precious spare diesel fuel in to my truck without thinking twice.

We talk a bit and I find out Ted has just ordered a new Ford dually one ton. I like the man even more, now…. I tell him of the Power Stroke and how it has the power he needs and reassure him that he will love his new Ford. I felt I could have spent quite a bit of time talking to this big hearted man. A kind man who stopped to help me without even knowing my name. Ted was Thanksgiving in the flesh, it seemed.

Funny, how this incident turned my heart around. In these past weeks you have watched me struggle to find my center, my soul, and my joy. And this entire episode had started out to be just one more challenge in a day to get through so I could get to my meeting, get home to the kids, feed, and oh yeah, get ready for deer hunting season.

And you know me well enough to know I don’t hunt, but instead I shelter some of the more “deer-like” horses at sunrise and sunset each day of the season, trying to minimize the risk of a careless shot. And then there’s Big Guy, who now stands still during the sounds of the gunfire, but whose entire 2,400 pound body jumps at each shot. I stand next to him through the first hour to try to reassure and soothe him. This Big Giant of a horse is calm on the outside but still terrified on the inside. Just like us, I think…. just like us.

So, I ran out of fuel on the freeway. Late for my meeting. And so late to feed and shelter the herd. And at the end of a week that has been full, to say the least. No, it’s not a killer, but it’s just another push in between my shoulder blades. I persevere forward and then here comes The Spirit of Thanksgiving in his big, black Dodge. A picture of the Faith Bucket hanging in the barn comes to the front of my mind…

Ted never asks for money to replace his fuel. He never asks for a thank you or anything. In fact, I have to ask him to get his name and address. He stays with me long enough to insure my diesel will stay running, and it does. And then, I surprise us both I think, when I just hug the heck out of Ted. Right there on Highway 94. And I’m beaming! Thank you, Ted! You are an angel in disguise, I tell him. Little does he know what he has done!

You see, you, Ted, have undone all the ick of this past week. You have reversed all of the times I’ve heard people proclaim, “I hate Christmas!”. You have performed your own brand of magic by this simple act of kindness. Bless you, Ted! Little did you know the impact of your actions. I feel like a dried up sponge who has just felt the soothing drops of fresh, clear water land on it…

I retrieved the name and address of this man and then saw he was from Canada! On top of it all! No Thanksgiving up there, you know, but this man still has The Spirit and The Heart of it. His homeland only adds to the magic for me…

So, Ted, I made it to my meeting and then home safely and have thus far protected my herd from a careless bullet. At least the best I can. But the road last Friday was made much smoother because of you. In fact, the road turned a big corner because of you. A corner back to joy and happiness and remembering the meaning of this Season. I’m smiling again, Ted! Thank you. For the fuel. For the care. And for the wave! May your kindness be returned to you ten-fold.

And by the way, Ted, Happy American Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the journey of each and every day in The Spirit of The Season,
Sandy and The Herd

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